Undefeated Cardinals face tough test
>>LOS ANGELES: When you are the undefeated Arizona Cardinals and your only visible weakness is stopping the running game, the last National Football League team you want to be facing are the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns (3-2) rank first in the league in rushing by a long shot, averaging 187.6 yards per game while the 5-0 Cardinals are surrendering 5.4 yards per carry, which is the second most in the league.
On the plus side, the Cardinals, who beat the San Francisco 49ers last week, are enjoying their success this season, recording the fourth-highest scoring offence (31.4 points per game) while surrendering just 19.0 points as they are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 1974.
The two clubs with winning records square off at FirstEnergy Stadium in Ohio as part of a full slate of week six NFL games today.
“One of the beauties of our team is nobody cares who gets the credit,” said Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt. “Nobody cares who’s making the plays, we just want the plays made. And it’s been a beautiful thing to watch that there’s no egos, that it’s all about how can we all do it together.”
Today’s quarterback match-up is intriguing with former No.1 overall draft picks and college teammates, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, going head to head for the second time in three years.
Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner and No.1 pick in the 2019 draft, is a leading MVP candidate this season.
“It’s always fun when we get together, when we were together,” Murray said. “The standard was the standard. “[Mayfield] gets a lot of hate or whatever, but I watched it firsthand each and every day. How hard he works, the throws he makes. I saw it all.”
Murray beat Mayfield, the top pick in 2018, in their first NFL encounter in 2019. They were once on the same US college team at the University of Oklahoma but Murray doesn’t want to put an added pressure on their rematch.
“This isn’t bigger [than any other regular season game],” Murray said. “We’re not about to make it the Super Bowl.”
The Los Angeles Chargers are already battle tested this season but they are going to have to find a way to stop the Baltimore Ravens’ versatile quarterback Lamar Jackson if they want to hold onto first place in the AFC West.
The jack-of-all-trades Jackson leads the Ravens in rushing yards (341) and has also thrown for 1,519 passing yards and eight touchdowns. He has two rushing TDs.
Jackson and Ravens are coming off a 19-point come-from-behind victory over Indianapolis on Monday night. Jackson finished with a career-high 442 passing yards and four touchdowns, completing 37 of 43 attempts and earning AFC player of the week honours.
The former league MVP ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards and eighth in rushing.
The resurgent Chargers are led by rising star Justin Herbert, who some are calling one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now.
The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars are travelling to London this weekend in a match-up between two last place AFC teams.
This is the Jaguars first road game since first year coach Urban Meyer apologised for his behaviour seen on social media that took place at a restaurant after a loss to the Bengals.
Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has been out for three weeks with fractured ribs, is scheduled to return. The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers all have byes this week.