Once a team that was a single win away from representing the conference in the Super Bowl, the Cardinals may be another loss away from representing the NFC in the worst way possible. The first team listed at the bottom of the power rankings among NFC teams. As of right now the Cardinals sit at a dreadful 1 and 3 record, same as their opponents this week in the San Francisco 49ers. With the short week of prep, Arizona may end up giving away another win if they aren’t careful.
Carson Palmer has not lived up to the expectations that were placed before him going into this season. Last year he had 35 touchdown passes and over 4,500 yards passing. This year he has barely squeaked by the 1,000 yard mark through four games and has six touchdowns to five interceptions. While his performance has been pedestrian at best, it isn’t the biggest concern for the franchise right now. His health has now taken over the conversation. The last few years Palmer has suffered knee injuries that ended his season early, and now he has been diagnosed with a concussion. Through the NFL’s protocol, he will not be eligible to play in the game this week in San Francisco, leaving Drew Stanton to take over as the starting quarterback. Concussions have proven to be a tricky thing in the NFL as some will only last one week with symptoms disappearing after a while and some can persist through the entire year if severe enough. As of now there is no timetable for Palmer’s return which leaves the chances of Stanton taking over for a long period of time potentially high. The franchise will have to wait and see as to what the future holds for the star quarterback.
Playing To the Competition’s Level
In week 1, the Cardinals let a Tom Brady-less Patriots team get the better of them and lost the first game of the year. In the third game of the season, the offense couldn’t get out of their own way with mistakes as they had totaled five turnovers including a botched field goal that turned into six points the other way on a bad snap. Last week the team played a Los Angeles Rams squad that simply put had been mediocre in the offensive category up to that point until they eventually gave up a game winning touchdown pass to Brian Quick that sealed the deal against the home team. Thus far the Cardinals seem to play to their opponent’s capabilities or lower pending on how pundits would judge the team up to this point. Needless to say the Cardinals need to start raising their level of play to what they know they can reach rather than thinking the competitions is going to simply roll over because of the success they had last year. Football is a sport about turnover, good and bad. Thus far the Cardinals have either had a really bad turnover, or the rest of the league has had a really good one in figuring out Bruce Arians’ team.
Lacking In Pace
The biggest thing about the Cardinals offense last season was the emergence of both David Johsnon and Chris Johnson in the running game. David Johnson proved that he belonged in the league after a stellar rookie campaign and Chris Johnson found his way back into stardom with a reemergence of his former glory he had as a Titan. Now it seems only David is getting the touches on a consisten basis with Chris riding the bench all too often. David had 17 carries as well as 4 catches in last week’s contest while Chris only had his six carries. The Cardinals were willing to put the two in the backfield on many a different scenario because of how they could make the defenses react. This season it seems that Arians would much rather have David Johnson in the game constantly as he is a better overall running back, but in today’s NFL only a few teams can truly get away with the one back system. Arizona is not that team. If the offense is going to get back on track and survive this period without Palmer, Arians must put both Johnsons and maybe even sprinkle in a few plays with Andre Ellington just to keep defenses guessing.
Prediction: Arizona 10 – San Francisco 21
The game will be played on Thursday Night Football on CBS on October the 6th at 6:25 PM in San Francisco.