The Arizona Cardinals were atop the NFC and had the best record in the NFL for quite some time. Kyler Murray was playing at an MVP level, James Conner looked to be the biggest steal of the offseason, and Kliff Kingsbury proved why he made the right choice to head to the NFL.
However, the Cardinals were dealt a massive injury blow with the latest update on star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and it could be an enormous wrench into their Super Bowl dreams. Oh, and things look a bit iffy on Conner as well.
DeAndre Hopkins expected to miss the remainder of the regular season with a knee injury — and possibly more
Just days after a close loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football, the Cardinals received devastating news on Hopkins. The talented wide receiver has battled injuries all year and missed the entire month of November alongside Murray.
But, he made his return and caught five balls for 54 yards on 12 targets against the Rams. On the season, Hopkins has compiled just 572 yards through 10 games but has brought eight touchdowns to lead all Arizona receivers.
Now, the Cardinals will be without Hopkins for at least the rest of the regular season, and it could cost them a shot at winning the NFC West. Even with his down year, Hopkins is a massive threat and a problem for most defenses to plan against.
So, where do the Cardinals go from here?
The bright side? There is a chance Hopkins returns for the playoffs, but at this point, nobody knows.
The Cardinals pass-catchers need to step up with the latest injury blow
Who will it be?
The talent is there. The Cardinals have Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, and rookie Rondale Moore, who caught an unreal ball earlier this season against the San Francisco 49ers.
Zach Ertz should generate more targets with the absence, and obviously, Conner and Chase Edmonds will get more run — depending on the health of both running backs. But, at some point, one of the receivers has to become the guy in Arizona.
Hopkins is one of a kind and nobody can replace his talent level, but between the rest of the Arizona offense, it will be essential to try and fill his shoes as best they can.
The talent and opportunity are there, but who will step up is the main question. Somebody has to, and Arizona’s offense will look much different without Hopkins for another extended chunk of time.
Arizona’s Super Bowl chances continue to go downward as the injuries continue to mount
As if the Hopkins injury isn’t bad enough, the team already lost J.J. Watt earlier this season. On top of that, Edmonds is still waiting to be activated from Injured Reserve.
If things couldn’t get worse, Conner popped up with an injury and was slated to undergo an MRI after scoring two touchdowns against the Rams.
First Watt, then Hopkins, and now Conner. What’s next?
Arizona finished the year with the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, and the Seattle Seahawks — with two of those teams above .500.
The Cardinals had the fifth-best Super Bowl odds before the Hopkins news dropped, and one can only imagine that it continues to go down with such a massive injury update. It’s going to take a heroic stretch from Murray to keep this Cardinals team afloat, and it doesn’t help that he is coming off of a zero-TD, two-INT game against the Rams.
This is yet another reminder of how quickly things can change in the NFL, and the Cardinals know best after a disastrous ending to the 2020 campaign.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference