Ugh. Another Monday where we have to write about ugly losses from bad Valley sports teams. But the good thing about Phoenix is we have so many spectator-sports options that another season is always right around the corner. Long live the cycle of hope! Here are our five big takeaways from the weekend in sports.
1. Cardinals downward spiral drops them from a playoff spot.
Sunday’s 38-28 loss at home to the L.A. Rams dropped the Cardinals to a 6-6 record and is the fourth loss in five games for Arizona, after starting the season 5-2. It’s also the seventh straight loss to their divisional foe and the games have not been particularly close: The Rams are averaging more than 33 points per game against the Cardinals over the seven-game span, while Arizona has put up 12 per game. That’s an average margin of 21 points and simply dominant by the standards of today’s NFL.
Big Takeaway: The Cardinals are now 8th in the NFC, falling behind Minnesota for the final Wild Card spot with four weeks left in the season. Arizona travels to face a suddenly resurgent New York Giants team this week and still has the 49ers and Rams left to play. The home game against the Eagles may be the one winnable game the Cards have left this season.
2. Kyler Murray should get more of the blame.
Quarterback Kyler Murray connected with tight end Dan Arnold on a 59-yard touchdown strike on the opening drive of the game. The Rams defense blew a coverage and left Arnold wide open in the middle of the field for the easiest explosive play for the Cardinals offense in a long time. But that was it. The offense did nothing the rest of the first half. At one point, the Cardinals had four straight 3-and-outs and Murray was 1-for-8 with 59 yards passing.
Big Takeaway: Murray finished the game with 173 yards passing and three touchdowns, but the final score was a late garbage time touchdown when the game was well in hand for the Rams. Murray’s 1-for-8 stat line in the first half should forever burn into your mind as a Cardinals fan. It’s something we can’t unsee. The quarterback got almost all the credit when things were going great in the early part of the season. He deserves almost all the blame now that the offense has gone missing during this downward spiral in the back half of the season.
3. Late night ASU loss sets up odd Territorial Cup week.
Losing to Los Angeles was the theme of the weekend for Valley football fans. The Arizona State Sun Devils fell to 0-2 after a late night loss to UCLA Saturday (or was it Sunday morning?) in Tempe. Both of ASU’s losses this year have been to L.A. schools. Meanwhile, the Arizona Wildcats have also lost to both USC and UCLA this season, and enter Friday’s Territorial Cup with an 0-4 record after a loss to Colorado this weekend. There’s a lot of bad football in the state of Arizona right now.
Big Takeaway: The Territorial Cup will feature two winless teams for the first time since the schools joined the Pac-10/Pac-12 Conference. Yes, it’s a weird 2020 season that no one will want to remember, but neither team wants a zero in the win column at the end of the year. In a way, that makes this year’s matchup one of the most important in the history of the rivalry.
4. Prep powerhouses Chandler and Hamilton set for state title showdown.
Top-ranked Chandler High School survived an upset bid from Liberty High School to advance in the Open Division football playoff bracket. Meanwhile, Hamilton High School has steamrolled through its first two opponents, scoring 108 points total in the first two rounds. These two schools will renew their rivalry Saturday night at Desert Vista High School for the Arizona Open Division Championship.
Big Takeaway: This may be the most competitive moment in the rivalry known as the Battle For Arizona Avenue. The schools are separated by a few miles along Arizona Avenue in Chandler, and one side has enjoyed domination over the other in different eras. Hamilton owned the rivalry for the first two decades, but Chandler has taken over control in recent years. Hamilton’s only loss this year was to Chandler on November 20, but the Huskies were missing a few key players then. In turn, the Wolves appear to be down a few key players going into the championship game. For the long, storied history of this great matchup, Saturday night could be the most competitive this rivalry game has ever been.
5. New Suns season is almost here.
Who’s ready for preseason hoops?! Yeah, me neither, but it means we’re that much closer to the new NBA season tipping off. There won’t be a bubble this year and games are going back to the regular evening time slots. We’re going to miss those 1 p.m. games like the NBA gave us when everyone was in Orlando, because it gave us this all-time Devin Booker moment.
Big Takeaway: The Phoenix Suns went 8-0 in the bubble only to miss the playoffs, so it left us with a weird taste in our mouths since August: the flavor of winning basketball. It’s something that Phoenix fans haven’t sampled in the past decade and it’s left us wanting more. Phoenix will always be a Suns town and we’re excited for this season to start.