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5 questions with Revenge of the Birds: Can the Cardinals' strong running game keep it up?

James Conner caught the attention of Steve Wilks. And we remember how he ran against the 49ers a couple of years ago

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds joins us this week for a prediction, to give us more insight about the Arizona Cardinals roster and start to the season, and a little Kyler Murray talk.

1. Arizona surprised Dallas last week and have played more competitively than many in the media expected prior to the season. How are Cardinals fans feeling about their start and the expectations for this season?

People are excited because they have been competitive, well coached and are doing all of this at a clear talent disadvantage. So, they are hopeful that as the talent gap closes over the next season(s) that this will finally be a coaching staff and front office that can take them into a long period of competitive football.

There are no delusions that this team is winning anything this year, but they are glad that even without the quarterback, this team looks competent.

2. There had been rumors before the year that Arizona was comfortable with moving on from Kyler Murray following this season since it is a strong QB draft class, and they will have two first round picks, both potentially in the top 10. Do you expect Murray to come off of IR sometime this season and that Cardinals fans will get to see him in action in 2023?

I am not sure what rumors of them moving on from Kyler would be accurate because most of their moves have been with the idea that he will be the guy moving forward.

One only needs to look at how they took all the cap hits this year on a number of moves in order to clear nearly $70 million in cap space, with Kyler under contract, for next offseason. If they decide to move on from Kyler that number is cut in half and they all of a sudden are back to being a team where there are not many expectations for 2024 as they deal with a bad cap situation.

Now, all of that changes if Kyler cannot play, which with any knee injury is always a concern, but they plan on seeing what Kyler looks like in the new offense and moving forward with him as their quarterback until his on field play deems it necessary.

3. The Cardinals running game has been one of the best in the league through three weeks, what has led to that success, and how has new OC Drew Petzing built a strong attack behind James Conner?

Volume and spacing. Outside of maybe Marquise Brown, this team uses everyone in their blocking schemes, including bringing rookie Michael Wilson and veteran Zach Pascal into the line to lead block, pull on counters and create confusion.

They are 11th in attempts, sixth in yards and second in yards per carry average, and they have everyone run the ball.

We have seen Brown, Rondale Moore, and Josh Dobbs on designed runs this season and that gives the Cardinals opponents something to think about.

4. Arizona has several rookies starting, including first round pick Paris Johnson Jr., who was the first offensive lineman off the board. How have the rookies performed to this point and are there any other rookies that non-Cardinals fans should know about?

Kei’Trel Clark has been good for a sixth round rookie. He has four passes defensed through the first three games and is a feisty, annoying corner who likes to be a fly in the ointment. Obviously, going up against Deebo and Aiyuk are different animals, so we will see how that goes this week.

Michael Wilson has had a nice start to the season, he is a big bodied wide receiver, who has good hands. He isn’t as athletic as an Aiyuk, but as dynamic as a Deebo, but he could be a guy like Tee Higgins for the Arizona Cardinals if he continues to improve.

Getting three guys who look like good starters is a huge plus for a franchise that hasn’t hit on draft picks all too well in the last decade.

5. San Francisco has covered the spread in two of their games this season and are two-touchdown favorites at home against Arizona, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Do the Cardinals have enough to stop this offense from covering the 14 points?

I don’t want to take the Cardinals to cover, but I feel like the reverse jinx has to wear out at some point.

So, this week I think the Niners control the game, the Cardinals settle for a ton of field goals from Matt Prater, and then get a cheap touchdown late in the game that takes them from 12 to 18/19, and they get a backdoor cover on things.

Niners 31

Cardinals 19

Good luck and good health in this one.