NFL

Kyler Murray Just Saved the Cardinals’ Playoff Chances

Kyler Murray has played exceptional football in 2020. His ability to run and throw the ball has left defenses dazed and confused, as they had no answers for him. The sophomore slump wasn’t a thing for Murray, leading the Arizona Cardinals to an 8-7 record in the final week of the season.

The Cardinals are facing their division rivals in the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17. This is a win or go home game, as both teams can clinch a playoff berth with a win. Fortunately for Arizona, they received news about Murray’s availability for the game that gives their playoff chances a considerable boost.

Kyler Murray injures his leg against the 49ers

Late in their Week 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers, Murray was hit after throwing a pass. He injured his leg on that play but could walk off the field under his own power. He didn’t play well in that game either, throwing the ball 50 times for 247 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Injuring his leg in the final stages of the game only threw salt on the wound.

That injury also put his availability for this crucial matchup against the Rams in jeopardy. In what is a must-win game, Murray not being able to play would drastically impact the team. The backup behind Murray is Chris Streevler, who has experience playing professional football. Streevler played two seasons in the Canadian Football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Cardinals fans would rather see Murray out there than Streevler.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t provide much insight into Murray’s playing chances when asked by reporters. “We’ll see how he feels,” Kingsbury said per Cardinals.com. “We’re not going to put him out there if he can’t play at a high level and doesn’t feel safe to play. But we’ll just have to see how he progresses.”

Kyle Murray says he will be playing against the Rams

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During his video press conference on Wednesday, Kyle Murray put any questions about his availability to bed. The second-year quarterback will be suiting up Week 17.

“Yeah, I’ll be playing,” Murray said per ESPN. Murray also said that his leg was hit “in the right spot.”

Murray understands how big this game is for not only him but the Cardinals. This is his first time being in a win or go home game in the NFL. This is the kind of game where you empty the tank, and Murray knows it. “There’s no holding back…the game’s different. We lose, I’ll be home, chilling,” Murray said.

As far as his leg is concerned, Murray has no worries about it. There will be plenty of time to rest and rehab that leg after the game. “My leg, I’m fine,” said Murray. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year seems focused on getting Arizona to the playoffs, something that hasn’t happened in years.

Kyler Murray can lead the Cardinals back to the postseason

The Arizona Cardinals have a good chance to win this game. Murray wasn’t the only quarterback dealing with an injury in this matchup. Rams quarterback Jared Goff suffered a broken right thumb against the Seattle Seahawks. Goff had surgery on the thumb this week, making him unavailable to play against Arizona. The Rams have John Wolford slated to start. Wolford has zero NFL experience, only playing at Wake Forest in college and with the Arizona Hotshots in the Alliance of American Football League.

LA will also be without running back Darrell Henderson, who is their leading rusher this season. Rookie Cam Akers status is also in question, as he is dealing with an ankle injury. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp is on the reserve/COVID list, making it unknown if he could play. All of these injuries to the Rams offense should motivate the Cardinals’ defense.

These injuries should also motivate Murray. If he put up points and force the Rams into a shootout, it will be hard for them to keep pace given the lack of offensive weapons. Putting up points against this Rams defense is no simple task, however. They allow 19.3 points per game, third-fewest in the NFL per ESPN. They are the only defense to hold opposing offenses to under 300 yards a game. Murray has his work cut out for him, especially with Aaron Donald coming for him.

Kyler Murray can lead the Cardinals to their first winning season since 2015. That is also the last time Arizona made the postseason, making it to the NFC title game. Even if he isn’t at 100%, Murray’s presence on the field will impact how the Rams play defense. Now that Murray said he’s playing, the Cardinals should be the favorite to win the game, which would get them into the postseason.

All stats courtesy of ESPN