ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-13) at WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (8-8-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, Fox
BETTING LINE: Commanders by 7, according to FanDuel Sportsbook
SERIES RECORD: Washington leads 76-47-2
LAST MEETING: Cardinals beat Washington 30-15 on Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Arizona.
CARDINALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (22), RUSH (22), PASS (18), SCORING (21)
CARDINALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (21), RUSH (14), PASS (24), SCORING (31)
COMMANDERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (12), PASS (21), SCORING (24)
COMMANDERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (3), RUSH (11), PASS (4), SCORING (8)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Cardinals minus-5; Commanders minus-5
CARDINALS PLAYER TO WATCH: DL Zaven Collins has moved to more of a pass-rushing role after spending his first two seasons as a middle linebacker. The 24-year-old had two sacks last season, but the Cardinals hope his production goes up substantially. The 16th pick in 2021 seems to have adapted well to the position change in preseason.
COMMANDERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Sam Howell is the focal point for Washington's success not just in Week 1 but all season. Howell, a 2022 fifth-round pick out of North Carolina, will be making just his second NFL start after winning his debut in the season finale last season. If he can run new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy's offense well, the Commanders should roll Sunday.
KEY MATCHUP: Cardinals mystery QB vs. Commanders defense. New Arizona coach Jonathan Gannon has refused to say who will start at quarterback, citing what he thinks is a competitive advantage. The expectation is it'll be veteran Josh Dobbs, whom the Cardinals recently acquired from Cleveland, instead of rookie Clayton Tune. Washington's defense led on the defensive line by tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen and edge rusher Montez Sweat could have a field day regardless.
KEY INJURIES: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray will miss at least the first four games of the season after being put on the physically unable to perform list. Murray is still recovering after tearing the ACL in his right knee in December. ... TE Zach Ertz also is recovering from a torn ACL and is listed as questionable, along with WR Marquise Brown (hamstring). ... Arizona OL Kelvin Beachum (hand) is out. ... Commanders WR Terry McLaurin, who sprained a toe Aug. 21, is set to play after practicing all week and getting removed from the injury report. ... Edge rusher Chase Young is out with a neck injury. Young got what he and the team called a stinger in the preseason opener Aug. 11.
SERIES NOTES: The Cardinals have won two of the past three meetings. ... Washington has won its past eight home games against Arizona going back to 1999. ... The Eagles beat Washington three of four times over the past two seasons with Gannon serving as Philadelphia's offensive coordinator. ... Ron Rivera is going into his fourth season as Washington's coach.
STATS AND STUFF: Ertz, who used to play for the Eagles in the NFC East, has 87 catches for 867 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games against Washington. ... Gannon is one of three coaches making his head NFL debut in Week 1, along with Houston’s DeMeco Ryans and Indianapolis’ Shane Steichen. ... Arizona has 11 rookies on the active roster, which is just the second time in the past 20 years the team has had that many in Week 1. ... Howell threw for two TDs and ran for one in beating Dallas in his NFL debut. ... Veteran QB Jacoby Brissett is expected to back up Howell. ... RB Brian Robinson Jr. is coming off rushing for 797 yards and two TDs in his rookie season. ... McLaurin has gone over 1,000 yards receiving in each of the past three seasons. ... Washington DTs Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen combined for 19 sacks and 129 tackles last season.
FANTASY TIP: No matter McLaurin's status, expect Commanders second-year WR Jahan Dotson to be a big part of Bieniemy's game plan. Tight ends were a major focus in Kansas City's offense when he was there, and that's good news for Logan Thomas, but Washington is far deeper at receiver. Having McLaurin and Curtis Samuel around opens up opportunities for the sure-handed Dotson to get a lot of catches.
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