The Arizona Cardinals entered Week 15 with a 10-3 record, which was tied for the NFL’s best record.
After an embarrassing blowout loss to the Detroit Lions, here are three reasons Cardinals fans should be worried.
3. NFC Playoff Standings
The Cardinals have lost four of their last seven games, including two losses in a row.
It’s one thing to lose in Week 14 to the Los Angeles Rams, who are an NFC West rival.
It’s another to lose to a 1-11-1 Detroit Lions team that entered Week 15 with the NFL’s worst record.
Arizona would have clinched a playoff spot with a win over Detroit.
The Cardinals entered as a 13-point favorite against the Lions.
However, the Lions absolutely smoked the Cardinals, winning 30-12 after starting the game with a 17-0 lead.
Sunday’s game marked the third time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that the league’s worst team beat the league’s best team in the second half of the season.
The 10-3 Cardinals lost to the 1-11-1 Lions
This is the 3rd time since 1970 that a team w/ the NFL's worst record beat a team w/ the best record (incl tied records), min. 8 gms each
The prev. 2 teams to lose — 1995 Cowboys & 2004 Patriots — went on to win Super Bowl that season
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 19, 2021
After Sunday, the Cardinals fell to the No. 4 seed behind the Green Bay Packers (11-3), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4), and the Dallas Cowboys (10-4).
The Rams won Tuesday, putting them in a tie with the Cardinals atop the NFC West.
The Cardinals also have a tough remaining schedule, hosting the Indianapolis Colts (8-6) on Christmas Day, playing a road game against the Cowboys in Week 17, and finishing the season at home against the Seahawks.
While the Cardinals will likely make the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season, it’s unclear whether they will have home-field advantage depending on where they finish.
However, the Cardinals have been much better this season on the road (7-1) than at home (3-3).
2. Kyler Murray’s Return From An Ankle Injury
In the loss to the Lions, quarterback Kyler Murray averaged a season-low 6.3 yards per pass attempt and a season-low 56 percent completion percentage.
Murray threw for 257 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Also, Murray had only four rushing attempts for three yards.
Murray is known for relying upon his speed and quickness, especially given his slight frame at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 19, 2021
Due to an ankle injury, Murray missed three games before returning in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.
Murray’s performance has dropped off since coming back.
Perhaps Murray returned too soon.
Last season, Murray wasn’t the same player after suffering a shoulder injury.
1. DeAndre Hopkins Is Likely Out For The Season
DeAndre Hopkins (knee) went on injured reserve Sunday, which means he will miss at least three games.
In Week 14, Hopkins tore his MCL in just his second game back from a hamstring injury.
Hopkins had surgery to repair the MCL tear.
An unnamed source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Hopkins “could be back” for the NFC Championship game or Super Bowl if the Cardinals make it that far.
Before to this year, Hopkins had played in at least 15 games in each of his eight prior NFL seasons.
Cardinals’ WR DeAndre Hopkins, who tore his MCL last week, “could be back” for the NFC Championship Game or Super Bowl if the Cardinals were to make it that far, per source. But it would be “unrealistic” to expect him to return any earlier, said the source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 19, 2021
The five-time Pro Bowler is widely considered one of the NFL’s best wide receivers.