The Arizona Cardinals are 7-1 heading into Week 10, and I’m having a hard time buying their legitimacy. In fact, these Birds have benefited from some lucky bounces, literally.
Week 1 vs. Chargers W 18-17
Home opener on MNF. Losing 17-6, Arizona rallied with 12 points in the 4th quarter to pull off the comeback win. A bad snap from the backup center late in the 4th cost the Chargers at least a field goal (would have given SD 20-12 lead with 7 minutes to play)
Week 2 @ Giants W 25-14
Another 4th quarter comeback, outscoring NY 15-0 in the final 15 minutes. Giants turned the ball over four times.
Week 3 vs. 49ERS W 23-14
Arizona outscored SF 17-0 in a third consecutive 2nd half comeback. SF was penalized 9 times for 107 yards … three were of the 15-yard type.
Week 5 @ Broncos L 41-20
Week 6 vs. Washington W 30-20
Washington turned the ball over 4 times. Backup QB Kirk Cousins tossed three picks and went 4-of-10 passing for 21 yards on 3rd down. He’s since been benched.
Week 7 @ Raiders W 24-13
The Raiders are 0-8.
Week 8 vs. Eagles W 24-20
Yet another 4th quarter comeback. Cardinals forced 3 turnovers. Still allowed 521 yards defensively, 411 through the air. PHI wide receiver Jordan Matthews failed to get two feet down in the Endzone on the final play of the game (for the win).
Week 9 @ Cowboys W 28-17
Brandon Weeden started in place of Tony Romo. I should stop there. Weeden finished with a QB rating of 7.5 Weeden is 5-16 as a starter in the NFL. He has not won a game since 2012. In the first half, Weeden completed just 1 of 6 passes on throws traveling more than 1 yard downfield. Need I say more?
If it sounds like I’m discounting the advertised price on Arizona, that’s because I am. When word leaked of Bruce Arians telling the team, “don’t let anyone dress in your lockers” when Arizona hosts the Super Bowl in February — I got a good chuckle.
Distinguished linebacker Larry Foote even took the bait, saying, “In December if we’re 12-and-whatever or something like that I might start thinking about it.”
Yep, OK. Arizona reminds me of the 2013 Chiefs. A good team with an incredibly fortunate, soft schedule to pad its record. Also known as, first round exit.
STATS That Stand Out
- Palmer is completing over 70% of his passes against the blitz. Gregg Williams and Co. need to build off the dominant performance in Santa Clara. Getting to Carson Palmer is key — and if “Sack City” punishes Palmer like they did Colin Kaepernick, Rams win.
- Arizona is opportunistic. They are +10 in the turnover department. Offensively, they have only committed 6 turnovers. But back to the ball bouncing their way… They’ve only lost 4-of-9 offensive fumbles.
- Resiliency. As noted above, Arizona overcomes adversity with their triumphant 2nd half and 4th quarter comebacks. The Rams have yet to prove they can consistently play 60 minutes.
SCOUTING THE ARIZONA DEFENSE
- Give up an average 366 yards/game (5 more than Rams)
- Committed 61 penalties (12 more than Rams)
- 40% on 3rd down (3% better than Rams)
- Registered 8 sacks all season (6 less than Rams)
- Send added pass rushers on 45% of opponents’ dropbacks.
- Forget the fancy stuff… they are only allowing 19.5 points per game.
WILD CARD STAT
Jeff Fisher is 3-1 versus Arizona with St. Louis, 1-1 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Rams like to turn the heat up for Division games. If the Rams can generate a persistent pass rush, Palmer will make crucial mistakes on top of the 1-2 horrendous throws he makes per game. The Rams must capitalize on these. Janoris Jenkins could have a make-or-break day.
Cardinals rookie WR John Brown is a very dynamic player. Look for Arians to try to exploit the Rams linebackers on short crossing patterns before taking shots downfield to Larry Fitzgerald when Williams adjusts by bringing safety help over the middle.
None of this matters if the Rams forget to show up.
Thanks for reading.