CARDINALS CORNER

Draft implications surround Arizona Cardinals’ Week 11 tilt vs. Texans

Nov 16, 2023, 6:15 AM

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals’ Week 11 matchup against the Houston Texans has been circled on a lot of calendars since mid-April.

General manager Monti Ossenfort is to thank for that after orchestrating a draft-day trade that shipped off Arizona’s 2023 No. 3 pick to the Texans for a package that included a first- and third-round pick in 2024. Arizona also received the No. 12 pick that was flipped in a deal with the Detroit Lions that netted the Cardinals offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6.

To put it simply, Arizona has a lot of stock in Houston’s 2024 campaign.

And so far, that stock isn’t looking quite as fruitful as once thought due to the MVP-like play of Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and Houston blowing by initial expectations in head coach DeMeco Ryans’ first year on the job.

“(Stroud) doesn’t look like a rookie out there, I know that,” head coach Jonathan Gannon said Wednesday. “Processes extremely fast, very accurate, quick release. They’re top 1-2 in explosive passes in the NFL right now and explosives come up on all downs.

“He’s done a really good job. That’s why their record (is) above .500 and right in the playoff hunt. They’re playing good football right now, really good football. He jumped off the tape.”

After dropping their first two games of the year, the Texans have rattled off five wins in their past seven matchups and currently sit 5-4. They are one game behind the 6-3 Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South standings.

If the season ended after Week 10, Houston would be a wild card team. It needs two more wins to surpass the over/under win total of 6.5 set by FanDuel Sportsbook at the beginning of the season.

Draft implication translation: That high pick many were expecting the Cardinals to get via the Texans currently sits at No. 20 on the draft board while Arizona stands at No. 4 with its own selection, per Tankathon.

A look at what a Cardinals’ win and loss will do to their future prospects:

Cardinals win

A win from Arizona would not only add to the growing hype surrounding quarterback Kyler Murray and his return to action following a torn ACL suffered in Week 14 of last season, it would also mean the Cardinals slowed the Texans’ roll.

Dropping Houston back to .500 would be an impressive feat for the Cardinals in more ways than one.

It would add further proof that Murray can lead this team into the future while dropping Houston down a peg.

Obviously, Arizona would need some help from the other four- and five-win teams currently picking ahead of where Houston sits, but the Cardinals at the very least would have done their part in keeping the draft pick as valuable as possible.

We know the Atlanta Falcons (4-6), New Orleans Saints (5-5) and Indianapolis Colts (5-5) won’t see their records alter thanks to bye weeks, but there are still eight teams with either four or five wins that could cause the draft board to shift one way or another in Week 11.

Boost morale while not hurting your future investment? Sounds like a win-win to me.

Cardinals lose

Then there’s the other side of the coin, where the Cardinals can’t keep up with the Texans and watch Houston pile up another victory on top of likely positioning itself further down the draft board at the same time.

Yes, a loss would hurt the momentum Arizona gained last week and put a damper on Murray’s return just two weeks removed from his first game back.

But there would be a sliver of silver lining in the defeat that cannot be understated.

With a loss, Arizona would move to 2-9 on the season, keeping it in lockstep with the bottom of the NFL jostling for the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Win or lose, the 1-8 Carolina Panthers aren’t moving from the No. 1 spot. The same can’t be said for the New York Giants and New England Patriots, though.

The Giants taking an L would keep them locked in at No. 2 over the Cardinals. Losers of three straight and down a franchise quarterback, that’s certainly the way things are trending.

But a New York win over the Washington Commanders (4-6) in addition to the Patriots’ record not budging due to a bye week would move Arizona into the No. 2 spot.

At the end of the day, the Cardinals walking out of Houston with a win checks off more boxes than with a loss.

But even in defeat, there’s still something to gain for a franchise with one foot already toward the future.

The current 2024 NFL Draft order

1. Carolina Panthers (1-8) — belongs to Bears
2. New York Giants (2-8)
3. New England Patriots (2-8)*
4. Arizona Cardinals (2-8)
5. Chicago Bears (3-7)
6. Green Bay Packers (3-6)
7. Los Angeles Rams (3-6)
8. Tennessee Titans (3-6)
9. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)*
10. Washington Commanders (4-6)
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)
12. New York Jets (4-5)
13. Denver Broncos (4-5)
14. Los Angeles Chargers (4-5)
15. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)*
16. Las Vegas Raiders (5-5)
17. Buffalo Bills (5-5)
18. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
19. New Orleans Saints (5-5)*
20. Houston Texans (5-4) — belongs to Cardinals
21. Minnesota Vikings (6-4)
22. Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)
24. Cleveland Browns (6-3) — belongs to Texans
25. Miami Dolphins (6-3)
26. Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3)
28. San Francisco 49ers (6-3)
29. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)
30. Detroit Lions (7-2)
31. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
32. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)

*On bye

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