CARDINALS CORNER

Bold or realistic predictions: Cardinals’ Trey McBride has repeat 100-yard game in Week 11

Nov 15, 2023, 6:30 AM | Updated: 7:44 am

TEMPE — It felt like a different Arizona Cardinals team emerged from its 25-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

And with it, a whole lot more expectations. Funny what a win and franchise quarterback can do for a team.

The Cardinals are riding high one game into signal caller Kyler Murray’s long-awaited return and now enter a Week 11 matchup against a surprisingly good Houston Texans squad led by Rookie of the Year frontrunner — and emerging NFL MVP candidate — C.J. Stroud.

A look at some predictions for the upcoming game given what we all saw last week in Arizona and what’s transpired in Houston in 2023:

Trey Day(s)

Cardinals tight end and second-year pro Trey McBride etched his name in the franchise record book following his 131-yard performance in Arizona’s 25-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The last Cardinals tight end to reach the 100-yard feat was when Rob Awalt (105) did so in 1989.

McBride, who was still 10 years from being born when the drought began, wasn’t even aware of the drought until after the game.

Now, he’s got a really good chance on Sunday to keep the streak from starting anew for at least another week.

The Texans have been gashed by opposing tight ends this season, allowing 63 catches for 553 yards and four touchdowns to 19 different big-bodied pass catchers through nine weeks, six of whom caught at least six balls. And that’s without facing Baltimore Ravens star Mark Andrews in Week 1.

That’s the kind of opportunity McBride needs to double down on his 100-yard outing in Week 10, because he clearly has the trust of his coaching staff and teammates, specifically Murray.

“To me, he’s a complete tight end,” offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said. “He’s worked really hard over the past couple months to be that guy, to put himself in that position. Certainly, in the pass game, the size, the speed, the length, the hands, you saw it all on display on Sunday.

“But really for us, it’s something we’ve seen in terms of his game in general, in all areas — run blocking, pass protection, effort. Really pleased with the way he’s playing.”

And above all else, McBride posting at least 100 yards in back-to-back weeks for a franchise that hadn’t seen it done in 34 years would be poetic justice if you ask me.

Everything’s bigger in Texas

When Murray and the Cardinals step foot in Houston on Sunday, the quarterback will once again be back playing football in his home state.

Good things have followed when that’s been the case.

In the two instances Murray played against the Cowboys in Dallas, the quarterback combined for 451 yards and four touchdowns on 55.5% passing. He added another 19 carries for 118 yards and a score on the ground.

Houston’s defense presents a tough test for Murray, having allowed just nine touchdowns (tied for third fewest in the NFL) to six interceptions, but that’s not to say there’s isn’t potential for some Murray Magic through the air.

Entering Week 11, the Texans are 24th in the league in passing yards per game with 246.4 per game. They’re almost dead last in passing completion percentage at 70.2%. Only the Denver Broncos have allowed a better percentage (72.2%).

And given how Murray looked in his 2023 debut, Houston’s last two games of giving up at least 27 points in addition to C.J. Stroud’s impressive rookie campaign through nine weeks, it’s bound to be a shootout.

Murray’s thrown for three touchdowns against a Texans team before. What’s to say he can’t do it again?

Oh yeah, he’s 3-0 against Texas teams — home or away — in his NFL career, too.

Brown doubles down

If Murray is tossing a trio of touchdowns, someone’s got to be on the receiving end.

That somebody for at least two of them should be No. 1 option Hollywood Brown.

And after missing his best friend on a deep touchdown strike last game on top of only looking his way four times, I wouldn’t put it past Murray to get the wideout involved early and often in Week 11, especially when there’s a chance to score.

Brown should be eager to eat in Houston after recording just one catch for 28 yards in Murray’s return, tying for his second-lowest receiving output of the season.

We saw the duo’s connection firsthand last season translate to 531 yards and three scores on 49 receptions (72 targets) across seven full games.

Look for Murray to try to ignite that connection once more with some added looks in Houston.

Take Tune

Murray may have made his return, but rookie Clayton Tune still found his way into the game on Sunday.

Sure, it was only two plays, but they were anything but throwaways. One helped keep a scoring drive alive, while the other had him do the scoring himself thanks to the “Tune Push.”

And from the sounds of it, his limited showings could very well be an important piece of the offense moving forward.

“Some of it’s just from watching other people around the league, some of it is making sure that you’re using everybody who has a jersey on Sunday who can help us win a football game,” Petzing said Tuesday.

“We’re going to use him in a lot of different situations depending on how the game plays out,” the OC added. “Got to keep people on their toes on that one.”

If the ball is near the goal line (or a fourth-and-1) against the Texans on Sunday, there’s a good chance it’s Tune Time once again, especially with the QB back in his old college stomping grounds.

Sorry fantasy football managers with Murray or James Conner on your rosters.

BJ gets to C.J.

The Texans have done a good job at keeping Stroud upright in 2023, allowing just 19 sacks through nine games. That’s currently a top-10 stat.

Of late, though, opposing defenses have gotten to the QB a little more consistently than they did earlier in the year.

After staying upright for three straight matchups from Weeks 3-5, Stroud has been sacked the past four weeks and has gone down multiple times in three of the last four.

Much like McBride against the Texans defense, opportunity is there for another young Cardinal coming off his best game as a pro.

Rookie BJ Ojulari has stacked games in recent weeks, highlighted by his two-sack, eight-tackle effort in Sunday’s win. Tallying another sack (or two) in Week 11 isn’t out of the question by any means.

It’s clear the game is slowing down for the versatile pass rusher, who should continue to be a pest for opposing linemen and tight ends.

“Every area of his game is slowly improving throughout the year,” defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said Tuesday. “This past game, I thought it was his most complete game. Obviously, everyone saw the sacks. He rushed well. But in coverage he did a good job. … He did a good job of getting on the right matchups and smothering his coverage. He did really good in the run game. … He’s got to continue to build on that, improve on that.”

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