The Cincinnati Bengals had Super Bowl aspirations and expectations coming into 2023. They are now fighting to keep their season afloat and not watch it circle the drain. The Arizona Cardinals are in full rebuild mode, coming off a blowout loss in San Francisco. The teams meet Sunday when the Cardinals (1-3) host the Bengals (1-3) in Glendale, Ariz., as the Bengals begin a three-game stretch against NFC West opponents.
Cincinnati is looking to bounce back from a 27-3 loss at Tennessee in Week 4.
The Cardinals are playing their first of five games against the AFC and their first of four against AFC North competition.
When the game came out on the schedule in the spring, it featured the potential of a first-ever matchup between former Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 overall picks in Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Arizona signal caller Kyler Murray. But Murray remains on the physically unable to perform list as he aims to return from his torn right ACL last December.
“I don’t think there is any disappointment,” Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon said. “We knew his timeline, where he is at, and that’s kind of a day-by-day thing with all the guys coming off an injury. He actually has been very upbeat the whole time but in the last couple of weeks I have seen a little bit of a different bounce in his step.”
Instead of Murray, it’s Joshua Dobbs making his fifth start for the Cardinals. Dobbs completed 28 of 41 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to San Francisco.
Dobbs can become the first Cardinals quarterback since at least 1970 to start the first five games of a season without an interception. He has thrown four touchdown passes without being picked off.
Burrow, struggling through a right calf strain that has limited his mobility, has started a pair of games this season in which the offense has produced just three points, including Sunday’s 27-3 loss at Tennessee.
“I’m still confident in what we have,” said Burrow, who has directed just three touchdown drives this season. “We have to do better. We’ve scored three touchdowns. That’s not near good enough. We’ve got a ways to go. We’ve got the guys in that room to do it. We have the coaches to do it.”
The Bengals could be without a weapon this week as star receiver Tee Higgins suffered a rib injury in last week’s loss to Tennessee and did not practice on Wednesday.
“Whether we lost 27-26 or 27-3, we’re 1-3,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “It doesn’t matter which way you slice it. We have got to find a way to get ourselves back on track. We got our first win. It felt good. But we’ve got to find a way in Arizona to get ourselves back on track and be 2-3.”
The Cardinals released punter Nolan Cooney on Tuesday, signing veteran Blake Gillikin to replace him.
Gillikin averaged 47.0 yards a punt over the past two seasons with New Orleans.
The Cardinals have won all four home games against Cincinnati in the 12-game series that dates back to 1973, including a 34-31 win on Sunday Night Football in 2015. This marks Cincinnati’s second trip ever to State Farm Stadium. The two teams have split the previous 12 meetings.
Along with Higgins, linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee) and cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (Concussion) also did not practice Wednesday. Tight end Irv Smith (hamstring) and Offensive Tackle Orlando Brown (groin) were limited.
Running back Keaontay Ingram (neck) sat out practice Wednesday for the Cardinals, while linebackers Krys Barnes (finger) and Josh Woods (ankle), offensive tackle Dennis Daley (ankle), center Hjalte Froholdt (neck), defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter (finger), and cornerback Garrett Williams (knee) were all limited.