The Cincinnati Bengals desperately need a win and this week, they're headed to Glendale to face the Arizona Cardinals. This game pits two 1-3 teams against each other but it's a bit surprising to see these squads with the same record four games into the regular season.
The Bengals entered the season as Super Bowl contenders while a lot of people thought the Cardinals were the worst team in the league. It felt like a foregone conclusion that the Cardinals were going to end the season with the worst record and the rights to draft USC's Caleb Williams with the number one overall pick in the 2024 draft.
Well, the Cardinals have been feisty, to say the least. They've put up a fight in all four of their games (yes, even the blowout to the 49ers this past week) and managed to take down mighty Cowboys two weeks ago. These Cardinals aren't going to just lie down and let teams walk all over them. This will be a tough game for a struggling Bengals team.
To get more insight on the Cardinals, I reached out to Sion Fawkes of Raising Zona, FanSided's site dedicated to everything Arizona Cardinals. He said that Ja'Marr Chase has a chance to put together a big game this week against a struggling Cardinals secondary.
Check out my conversation with Sion below.
Bengals vs. Cardinals Week 5 Q&A
Q: What were the expectations for the Cardinals entering the season and do you think they've lived up to those in the first four weeks? Why or why not?
Sion: Since the Cardinals are rebuilding, I knew 2023 would be a rough year. However, I never bought into the tanking narrative. They still had enough talent to at least build around, and I liked the idea of Joshua Dobbs coming in to try and keep the team afloat. So far, they're playing better than expected, having beaten Dallas and even keeping pace with San Francisco through three quarters. So far, I would say they have been encouraging.
Q: What is the Cardinals' biggest strength? What is their biggest weakness?
Sion: Right now, their biggest strength is James Conner. Regardless of who the Cardinals are playing, he always seems to churn out solid performances and he has been a major factor in the Cardinals offense at least playing decent football. Injuries have been the biggest weakness, with Kyler Murray and Budda Baker, arguably their two best players, missing significant time. The Cards have played better than many of us expected so far, and we're only left to speculate what they could look like with a healthy Murray and Baker.
Q: The reason the Cardinals are 1-3 is _____.
Sion: Just being a rebuilding team adapting to the new system and culture the new regime has brought in. We knew this year would be rocky, but player development is the main goal in 2023. If the Cards are a better team in Week 18 than they were in Week 1, then we can chalk it up as a successful season.
Q: Who has been the Cardinals' MVP through four games?
Sion: So far, it's been Conner. He has 318 rushing yards on 62 carries, and a pair of rushing touchdowns through four games, per Pro Football Reference. And with no real experience lining up behind him as the RB2 and RB3, the Cards have put a lot on his shoulders, and he's responded better than many of us would have thought.
Q: Aside from Joe Burrow, which Bengals player has Cardinals fans the most worried in this match-up?
Sion: It has to be Ja'Marr Chase. When he gets hot, he's virtually impossible to stop. And unfortunately, the Cardinals top corners in Marco Wilson and Kei'Trel Clark have had some rough outings this season. Chase will get his chances this week, and the Cardinals are going to have to give their corners help if they plan on stopping him.
Q: In one sentence, how do you think this game will play out?
Sion: The Cardinals have played well at home so far, so this one will be yet another close contest.
Q: The Cardinals will win if _____.
Sion: Their defense steps up, something they had a tough time with last Sunday against San Francisco.
Q: Give us your score prediction.
Sion: Cardinals take it in a nail-biter: 28-23.
Thanks again to Sion for taking the time to answer my questions! Be sure to check out his work over at Raising Zona ahead of this week's Bengals/Cardinals game.