Arizona Cardinals (2-0, 1-1 ATS) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2, 0-2), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Cardinals 29.75, Jaguars 22.75
Spread/Total Movements: None of note.
Weather: 85 degrees, 5% chance of rain, 5 mph
Cardinals Injuries to Watch: WR DeAndre Hopkins (ribs, questionable), CB Marco Wilson (ankle, questionable), RT Kelvin Beachum (ribs, questionable)
Jaguars Injuries to Watch: TE James O’Shaughnessy (ankle, IR), CB C.J. Henderson (hip, questionable)
Brolley’s Cardinals Stats and Trends
The Cardinals are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games.
Arizona has played under the total in nine straight road games dating back to last season.
Kyler Murray is off to a QB1 start through two weeks with his second straight 30+ FP performance in a victory over the Vikings in Week 2. He completed 29/36 passes for 400 yards (11.1 YPA), three touchdowns, and two interceptions while adding 5/31/1 rushing. Murray has accounted for 4+ touchdowns in each of his first two games, and he’s reached 400+ passing yards in two of his last five starts dating back to last season. The Cardinals could be an offensive juggernaut this season with 34+ points in each of their first two games. The Jaguars have given up 290+ passing yards and two TDs to both Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater to open the season.
DeAndre Hopkins has seen just 11 targets for a 16% share through two weeks, which is a bit worrisome, but he’s survived with three touchdowns and 15+ FP in each game. The Jaguars have allowed both Brandin Cooks (5/132 receiving) and Courtland Sutton (9/159) to go for 100+ yards in the first two weeks.
Rondale Moore ran the fewest routes out of Arizona’s top-four WRs in Week 2 with 24, but he led the team with eight targets (22% share) and receiving production (7/114/1). He did most of his damage on a 77-yard touchdown on a blown coverage by the Vikings, but it was a positive sign that Kliff Kingsbury fed Moore throughout the game.
A.J. Green finished second in routes (35) again and he actually caught half of his targets for just the ninth time in his last 18 games — he finished with 3/44/1 receiving on six targets. Christian Kirk finished third in routes (30) but he came back to earth with 3/65 receiving on four targets. The Jaguars are giving up the ninth-most receiving yards per game (208.0) to WRs.
Maxx Williams nearly matched all of his production from 2020 (8/102/1 receiving) in Week 2 alone when he stunningly caught all seven of his targets for 94 yards against the Vikings. The Jaguars have given up the ninth-most FPG (16.1) to TEs through two weeks.
Chase Edmonds is off to a strong start with 20/109 rushing (5.5 YPC) and 9/72 receiving through two weeks while James Conner has 24/79 rushing (3.3) without a target. The gamescript could potentially work in Conner’s favor for late carries as seven-point road favorites, but Edmonds has been active both as a runner and as a receiver. Jacksonville is giving up the 10th-most FPG (26.9) to RBs in the early going.
Brolley’s Jaguars Stats and Trends
The Jaguars are 6-11 ATS during their 17-game losing streak, including 1-5 ATS in their last six overall.
Urban Meyer has now lost back-to-back for the first time since the 2013 season when Ohio State lost in the Big Ten Championship (Michigan State) and the Orange Bowl (Clemson).
Trevor Lawrence averaged just 3.6 YPA against the Broncos with just 118 yards and two interceptions on 33 passes. He’s run just three times for 19 yards through two games so he hasn’t added any value as a runner yet. Kirk Cousins managed 244/3 passing in this matchup last week.
Marvin Jones has been Lawrence’s Mr. Reliable since the preseason, and he’s paced Jacksonville’s receivers in routes (81), targets (19), receptions (11), yards (132), and touchdowns (2) through two weeks. Adam Thielen posted 6/39/1 receiving in this matchup last week.
D.J. Chark managed just a 19-yard catch on four targets after seeing 12 targets in the season opener. He’s caught just 25% of his targets in each of his first two games with his aDOT sitting at 16.5 yards. Justin Jefferson posted 6/65/1 receiving in this matchup last week
Laviska Shenault somehow managed to finish with negative yardage (-3) despite seeing seven targets last week. Shenault’s 6.6-yard aDOT from last season has somehow managed to shrink to start 2021 at 4.7 yards. He’s expected to play through a shoulder injury this week. K.J. Osborn posted 5/91/1 receiving in this matchup last week.
James Robinson hasn’t hit double-digit FP in each of his first two games, but at least Carlos Hyde went from 11 touches in the season opener to just two touches last week. J-Rob has three catches in each of the first two games but he’s totaled just 118 scrimmage yards without a touchdown. Dalvin Cook went for 148 scrimmage yards last week but they limited Derrick Henry to 77 scrimmage yards in the season opener.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1-2 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.8 (18th)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 65 (17th)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 67.1% (9th) | Run: 32.9% (24th)
Week 1-2 – Pace: 22.9 (2nd)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 63 (20th)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 74.4% (1st) | Run: 25.6% (32nd)
HC Urban Meyer and OC Darell Bevell’s plan for the Jags’ offense so far has been a confusing one. Jacksonville’s coaching staff is putting a lot on Trevor Lawrence’s plate to the start this year as the Jaguars lead all teams in pass rate (74.4%) and are asking him to throw deep more than any QB in the league. That’s right. Lawrence leads all passers in average depth of target (9.9 yards) while his expected completion percentage – based on the difficulty of his throws – is 62.5% which is the third-lowest in the league ahead of only Daniel Jones (61%) and Josh Allen (62%). I have no idea why the Jags’ don’t try to 1) run the ball more and slow down the pace on offense to counteract a bad defense and 2) give Lawrence some easier layup throws – but here we are. This game has obvious shootout appeal with Kyler Murray on fire to start the season and a weak Jags’ defense that likely won’t give the Cardinals many problems. Jacksonville has allowed a score on 48% of their drives (seventh-highest rate), likely making this yet another extremely pass-heavy game-script for Lawrence as he tries to chase down the Cardinals from behind. Arizona’s implied team total (29.75) is second-highest on the slate behind only the Chiefs (30.5). The Jags’ are going to have to be Garbage Time heroes once again.
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
As anticipated upon learning Marvin Jones would be reuniting with his OC from Detroit (Darrell Bevell), Jones has quickly ascended toward becoming Trevor Lawrence’s go-to receiver. And it appears we will be able to count on the Jaguars falling significantly behind on a weekly basis. The run game did appear to take positive steps in Week 2, but the passing offense took reciprocal steps backwards. However, Jones’ involvement overcame that regression and a difficult coverage defense provided by Denver. He doesn’t have that challenge this week against Arizona’s bottom-tier corners.
While I like the matchup for Jones, it might not be the week to target Lawrence. Brighter days ahead for the rookie, and it’s difficult not to like his playstyle. He’s transplanted the same approach he used at Clemson. The only component he lacks is experience. He is well on his way toward becoming a special player.. But Arizona’s mix of exotic coverage schemes under DC Vance Joseph will be a bit too much for him at this point in his development.
For Arizona, it’s very important to note that rookie WR Rondale Moore accumulated 68% of his Week 2 receiving total and his first career TD on a single busted coverage — 77-of-114 yards. But that play speaks to the game-changing speed of Moore. And you simply cannot fake your way to a 24% target share. If Moore is going to receive anything close to that type of volume, we need to take advantage while we can. WR DeAndre Hopkins is dealing with bruised ribs, so he may not play any deeper than needed until Arizona manages to build a comfortable lead over the Jags. So we may see that volume continue this week, at least.
Since Moore works as the second-slot within the Cardinals’ 10 personnel, he will be the responsibility of the Jags’ dime corner, Chris Claybrooks. And the 2021 season has not been kind to Claybrooks, heading into a game where he’ll likely see the field on twice as many snaps as he’s accumulated over the first two weeks.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Cardinal QB Kyler Murray will look to continue his MVP campaign against a Jaguar defense that got carved up by Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater in each of the first two games of the season. Kyler’s on a different plane than those guys, so… yeah. He’s the QB1.
Keep an eye on the status of DeAndre Hopkins, who is dealing with bruised ribs. The 2-0 Cards may choose to be prudent with Hopkins, but the Jags’ coverage doesn’t offer much resistance even if he sits. Hopkins being out or limited would increase the value of Rondale Moore, Christian Kirk, and even AJ Green. Keep in mind that Kirk is much more likely to be consistent from the slot, where he’s run 88.9% of his routes so far. He might have to shift outside if Hopkins doesn’t play.
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said WR DeAndre Hopkins (ribs) will be a game-time decision.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) September 24, 2021
In the backfield, this looks like a good spot for Chase Edmonds, who finished as the RB18 in Week 1 (on 16 touches and 106 scrimmage yards) and was the RB19 last week (on 13 touches and 75 scrimmage yards). While he has yet to see any scoring opportunities with James Conner playing in the short-yardage role, Edmonds is still getting it done as a mid-range RB2 by averaging 5.5 YPC and getting 4-6 catches per game. Now, this is a chance for Edmonds to hit a big ceiling against a Jaguars defense that surrendered 146 scrimmage yards and 34.8 FP to Texans RBs in Week 1 and 143 total yards and 17.3 FP to Broncos backs in Week 2. Edmonds is an RB2.
As for Conner, it is important to note that he’s outsnapped Edmonds at the goal line 4 to 1, but the Cardinals’ only goal-line carry has actually gone to Kyler. But if Conner is ever going to get into the box, you have to imagine this will be the week.
While the Cardinals’ weak CB depth didn’t show up in Week 1 in a drubbing of the Titans, it did in Week 2, with Kirk Cousins completing TDs to three different WRs. So there’s a chance for Trevor Lawrence to get some GTP in this one, but also note that Cardinal DC Vance Joseph has been disguising coverages really well, something that caught Ryan Tannehill off guard. Lawrence is a low-end fantasy option only.
If you’re investing in this Jaguar passing game, consider — as Wes notes above — Marvin Jones. Since Week 8 of last season, only three wide receivers have outscored Marv: Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Stefon Diggs. Via Scott Barrett, over this span, Jones is averaging 8.8 targets and 18.0 FPG. For perspective, those numbers would have ranked 10th- and 6th-best (respectively) if over the full season. This year, Jones ranks (per game): 17th in targets (9.5), 9th in air yards (132.0), 4th in end zone targets (1.5), 5th in deep targets (2.5), 15th in XFP (17.6), and 16th in FPG (18.1). This game has a high total, Laviska Shenault (shoulder) is banged up but will play, and DJ Chark and Lawrence aren’t on the same page yet.
As for Chark, Scott Barrett has him as a prime positive regression candidate. While an abysmal 38% of his targets have been catchable (SIS), that likely can be owed to Lawrence being a rookie and Chark missing significant time this off-season. Among WRs, he ranks 22nd in targets per game (9.0), 2nd in air yards per game (162.5), 11th in XFP per game (18.1), but just 56th in FPG (10.3). This might not be the week for Chark, but he’s being used like a stud.
In the backfield, James Robinson has scored merely 17.4 FP through two games, but the good news is that his usage was much better in Week 2. After getting just five carries while Carlos Hyde had 9 in Week 1, Robinson out-touched Hyde 14 to 2 in Week 2, while playing 73% of the snaps to Hyde’s 25%. But this offense is so bad that he’s relegated to RB3/FLEX status.