TONIGHT: Arizona Cardinals are back on Monday Night Football and it’s on CBS 5
GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — For the second time this season, the Arizona Cardinals are on Monday Night Football, and Arizona’s Family is making it available so fans can watch even if they don’t have cable. CBS 5 will be showing the big game between the Red Birds and the New England Patriots. Arizona’s Family will have a pre-game show from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., with kickoff set for 6:15 p.m. Following the action, fans can check out the reaction from players on Arizona’s Family Post Game Show, also on CBS 5.
The Cardinals (4-8) have been disappointing this season and hope to return to their winning ways on Monday after losing two straight and four of their last five games. The team has been dogged by injuries this season, particularly on offense. However, they’re healthier than they’ve been for most of the season, with quarterback Kyler Murray, running back James Conner, and top receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown all available for just the second time this season.
New England (6-6) has lost two straight games and is in last place in the ultra-competitive AFC East. The Pats are just one game behind the Jets for the final playoff spot in the conference. Head coach Bill Belichick said that a struggling Cardinals team still presents challenges, particularly with Murray under center and Kingsbury on the sidelines. “I mean Kliff, obviously, coached in college, had (Patrick) Mahomes and everything else, so he knows how to use and put pressure on defenses with athletic quarterbacks,” Belichick said. “So, not only does Murray do it, but he’s also in a system that I would say probably enhances it.”
For Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, he hopes to put together a string of wins to solidify his job, starting with a win against his former mentor. Kingsbury was drafted by the Patriots in 2003 and spent one season as a backup quarterback learning the inner workings of the most successful franchise in recent NFL history.
“It was a crash course in football, and I learned more in the time there than the rest of my life put together probably,” Kingsbury said. “It’s a football 101 for anybody who’s been through that program — coaches, players, anybody. To see him still doing it and the level he’s doing it at is just incredible.”
There have been a lot of individual players on Arizona’s defense who have had nice seasons. J.J. Watt has turned back the clock with 6 1/2 sacks, which is more than he had the previous two years combined. Zach Allen has a career-high nine tackles for loss.
Young linebackers Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins have been much more productive. Safety Budda Baker continues to play at an All-Pro level. But as a whole, the Cardinals defense has been erratic. They’re ranked 21st in the league in total defense and 31st in scoring defense.
“There’s been games where we’ve been pretty good, but then there’s five or six plays of bad football,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “We’ve had a chance to make plays that turn games and we haven’t made them all the time.”
Conner ran for 120 yards in Arizona’s loss to the Chargers in Week 12, which was the first time he ran for more than 100 yards in his two seasons with the Cardinals.
The two-time Pro Bowler could shoulder a heavy load during the season’s final weeks. The team released primary backup Eno Benjamin last month, leaving Conner as the main rushing option. Conner has run for 476 yards this season and is averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
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