By Conor Perrett
Thursday Night Football has seemingly been cursed and Week 7 begins with a couple of struggling teams, as the New Orleans Saints pay a visit to the Arizona Cardinals.
With the return of DeAndre Hopkins, who is one of the top receivers in the league, hopefully he can fire some sparks on Thursday Night.
Arizona Cardinals (2-4)
Power Rankings – 26th
Offence – 26th
Defence – 20th
ST – 26th
Overall – 29th
The pressure was on Arizona this season after last year’s disappointing finish, especially after making long term commitments to head coach Kliff Kingsbury and starting quarterback Kyler Murray.
So far, those commitments are not paying off as planned yet. Murray and the offence have struggled all year, and now the big off-season addition Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown is sidelined with a significant injury.
This should be a good opportunity for the Cardinal’s offence to break out against a Saints’ defence that’s allowed more than 26 points per game; a statistic that puts them among the bottom five defences in the league.
It’s gotten to the point where this Week 7 game might be a must win for the home Cardinals. While it’s early to call it that, especially when they are in a division with no teams over .500, Arizona’s schedule gets significantly harder in the following weeks. With tension growing over Kingsbury’s head, he can’t afford to enter a bye week with such a poor record.
New Orleans Saints (2-4)
Power Rankings – 24th
Offence – 18th
Defence – 18th
ST – 31st
Overall – 26th
The Saints missed an opportunity to move into a first-place tie in the NFC South this past weekend by blowing a two-score second half lead against the Cincinnati Bengals. Now face the challenge of travelling on the road during a short week.
So far this season hasn’t been as successful as previous years, with the loss of Sean Payton as head coach. It’s no secret that the New Orleans’ franchise have been on the edge of the salary cap for years, making certain sacrifices that are now starting to catch up on them.
It also doesn’t help with the injuries New Orleans have accrued, especially in the lead up to this prime time game. Both starting receivers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry have been ruled out along with starting offensive lineman Andrus Peat. But it’s perhaps star corner-back Marshon Lattimore, who might be the biggest loss, with his presence up against Hopkins being a tremendous miss.
They might get Jameis Winston back with a game time decision on who is starting between himself and Andy Dalton potentially being crucial towards the outcome.
The past few Thursday night games have been complete duds in terms of total points, with the totals being 21 and 19 points respectively. The over/under for this game is set at 44.5 and that might seem a significant increase but I think it has potential to be around that.
Both offences haven’t been scoring for fun as of late and tonight could be a good chance for either side to light things up. The miss of Lattimore for the Saints is humongous and it could affect the outcome of the game.
He is one of the top corners in the game and most likely would have been matched up one-on-one with the returning Hopkins. Being his first game back there’s potential for him to be slow out of the gates, and that would have been perfect for Lattimore to shut him out and remove Murray’s favourite weapon. Now, Hopkins will have an easier matchup that will allow him to slowly find his feet in the game instead of jumping straight into the deep end.
I am expecting a higher scorer and I think the offences will take centre stage. Although Hopkins’ return should ignite a spark into this Cardinals offence, I still don’t think it will be enough to get them over the line. I like some of the pieces the Saints have and even though they are missing key players, I see them moving the ball nicely still and causing issues for the Arizona defence.
Prediction: Saints 24-20 Cardinals