Cardinals to face 7 of NFL’s 11 best RBs in 2021

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The Arizona Cardinals defense will be tested on many fronts this coming season. They will face many of the top tight ends, outside receivers and slot receivers.

Based on Touchdown Wire’s rankings of the 11 best running backs in the NFL, the Cardinals will also face seven of them this coming season.

The defense, especially the defensive line and the young inside linebacker pairing of Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons will be tested.

See which top backs they will face below.

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Week 1, Tennessee Titans: No. 1 Derrick Henry

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals kick off the season against the very best. He has led the NFL in rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns each of the last two seasons. He had 2,027 yards on the ground in 2020. He has only one career game against the Cardinals and it wasn't great. He had eight carries for 20 yards and did score once. It will be a big test for the Cardinals' defensive line and their young linebackers, Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons.

Week 2, Minnesota Vikings: No. 3 Dalvin Cook

(AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo, File)

The Cardinals open the year with two games against two of the three best backs in the NFL. Cook was great in 2020. Only Henry had more rushing yards or rushing touchdowns. Cook finished with 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also added 44 receptions for 361 yards. He has never faced the Cardinals. When the Vikings faced Arizona in 2018, Cook was injured.

Week 6, Cleveland Browns: No. 2 Nick Chubb

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

By Week 6, the Cardinals will have faced the three top running backs in the league. He only played in 12 games last season and still finished with 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns after rushing for 1,494 yards and eight scores in 2019. When the Browns came to Arizona, they did not do well, losing 38-24. However, Chubb was great. He had 127 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.

Week 8, Green Bay Packers: No. 5 Aaron Jones

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By halfway through the season, the Cardinals will have faced four of the league's five best backs. Jones and the Packers come to Arizona for a Thursday night game. He had 1,104 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 2020 a year after leading the NFL with 16 rushing touchdowns in 2019. His one career game against the Cardinals was not all that great. In 2018, he had 11 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown in the loss that led to Mike McCarthy getting fired as head coach.

Week 10, Carolina Panthers: No. 8 Christian McCaffrey

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

The Cardinals missed McCaffrey last season as he played in only three games. In 2019, he had a 1,000-1,000 season, becoming only the third player to have 1,000 rushing yards (he had 1,387 that year) and 1,000 receiving yards (he had 1,005) in the same season. When the two teams played in 2019, McCaffrey was a beast. He had 24 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown, and he also caught three passes for another 35 yards, giving him 188 total yards that afternoon.

Week 13, Chicago Bears: No. 7 David Montgomery

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

They get the Bears and Montgomery after the bye in December. In his second year in the NFL, he rushed for 1,070 yards and had 438 receiving yards as well. He has not faced the Cardinals yet in his career.

Week 16, Indianapolis Colts: No. 9 Jonathan Taylor

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Taylor started his rookie year slow and some even started labeling him a bust. He finished the season with 1,169 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns. He and the Colts come to Arizona for a Christmas evening matchup at State Farm Stadium. he is the last of the backs that show up on this list.

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