NFL · Mon (12/12) @ 8:15pm ET
|State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
After two lackluster seasons, this season could be a make-or-break year for Kingsbury. While his offense has been productive, Kingsbury has yet to lead the Cardinals to a record better than .500. Whether he can will depend on if he can get Kyler Murray to take his game to another level.
That may not be too hard against the Tennessee Titans’ lackluster defense in Week One. However, the Titans did make some defensive additions that could be key. But it may not matter how well the Cardinals offense plays.
The defense may struggle to slow Derek Henry down.
When healthy, Kyler Murray is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL. His connection with DeAndre Hopkins should be even better this year. Larry Fitzgerald may be gone, but they added another veteran in A.J. Green and a rookie receiver in Rondale Moore.
James Conner could give the Cardinals the ground game they have been desperate for. But when it comes to beating the Tennessee Titans, the trick will be in slowing down Derrick Henry.
Adding J.J. Watt to the front four should help—with or without Chandler Jones. The pass rush should be fine without Jones, and the secondary looks promising with Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford at the corners.
But stopping the Titans passing game and slowing down Derrick Henry may be too much to ask of the Cardinals defense.
Derrick Henry will still lead the way on offense for the Titans behind a line that ranked sixth in run-blocking last season. Some teams may be foolish enough to load the box against the run to stop Henry. But that will leave them open for Ryan Tannehill to play catch with his new favorite target—Julio Jones.
But Jones may not even be the best receiver on the roster. According to PFF, A.J. Brown was graded out as the No. 2 wide receiver last season.
Offensively, the Titans appear to be in great shape, but it is hard to say the same about the defense.
Shane Bowen did not do a great job of calling plays last season, but was made the defensive coordinator anyway this season. Adding Bud Dupree helps, as will the four defenders they drafted inside the early rounds of the draft.
However, despite their limitations, the Cardinals defense ranked 12th in scoring. With some of the personnel they lost via free agency, they may not do as well this season. But if the draft picks can get up to speed quickly, the Titans defense could be in good shape.
Sports Betting Recommendation
This game will likely be a close one, but not so close that it is worth taking the Cardinals and the points. But look for Derrick Henry to put this one away for the Titans late in the second half—so take Tennessee to win in a low-scoring, competitive game in this week one matchup.