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What DeAndre Hopkins season-ending injury means for Cardinals in NFL playoff picture

The Cardinals are expected to be without their top pass catcher the rest of the regular season. We break down what it means for the playoff picture.

DeAndre Hopkins #10 and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals prepare for the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The 10-3 Arizona Cardinals can clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a win over the 1-11-1 Detroit Lions, but otherwise momentum is not in their favor. The Cardinals lost to the Rams last week to lose a game of their NFC West lead. Now, it appears they will be without stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the rest of the regular season.

Hopkins injured his knee this past Monday against the Rams and a second opinion revealed a sprained knee, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The belief is he is done for the regular season but the Cardinals hope he can come back at some point for the playoffs.

The Cardinals have had to get by without Hopkins at times this season, but this situation is different. He missed Weeks 9-11 with a hamstring injury but returned after the team’s Week 12 bye. During that absence, quarterback Kyler Murray was also sidelined. The team went 2-1 in that stretch with Colt McCoy at quarterback and the team employing a starting receiver trio of Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, and Antoine Wesley.

It’s not entirely clear when Hopkins injured his knee this past week. He had his highest snap count and one of his higher snap percentages. Whatever the case, the team will lean on Kirk and Green in particular in his place. Hopkins has been a huge boon to Kyler Murray’s development, but now we get to see what Murray has learned and can apply without the star receiver.

Arizona is in first place in the NFC West with a one-game lead over the Rams. The teams split the regular season series, and Arizona has an edge in the next tiebreaker, divisional record. Arizona is 4-1 against NFC West opponents while LA is 2-2. The Cardinals are in third place overall in the NFC standings. Green Bay and Tampa Bay each hold a tiebreaker edge on Arizona.