Is Arizona for Real?
Following Sunday's huge win against Philadelphia, the Arizona Cardinals have opened a lot of eyes around the league. While not being the most threatening on paper, the Cardinals play solid football and currently have the best record in the NFL, with their sole loss coming against a high-powered Broncos team.
The defense in Arizona has been stout the last few years( 6th in yards allowed and 7th in points allowed in 2013), but what's new is this talented, efficient offense. The Cardinals have played mistake-free football, limiting penalties(tied for 7th least in the league) and not turning over the ball(3rd best turnover margin). The Cards have allowed 11 sacks this season, that's less times than Andrew Luck[the passing yards and touchdowns leader], Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and even Tony Romo who gets to stand behind what many believe to be the best O-Line in football. Only losing once over a three game span without your starting quarterback suggests that he has a strong supporting cast, so let's look at who we've got: Larry Fitzgerald, need I say more? Michael Floyd, who has the size and athleticism to become a monster receiver, had a quiet thousand yard season in only his second year, and is under the tutelage of “The Great Fitz;” John Brown, the 4.3 40yd rookie speedster, Pitt State’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, is a game breaker and has showed some promise with his team leading 4 recieving touchdowns; and Andre Ellington, the second year runningback who posted over one thousand total yards last season, having only started one game, is now the feature back, being backed up by a powerful Stepfan Taylor averaging 3.5 yards a carry. Not lacking offensive talent in Arizona.
That defense has been impressive. They've been banged up, but they have still managed consistency. Being 8th in passing touchdowns allowed and 3rd in interceptions, things are looking pretty good with Cromartie, Peterson, Mathieu, and Jefferson in the secondary. Veterans Foote, Campbell, and Williams have lead the front seven to having the second best run defense in the league.
On top of all that, kicker, Chandler Catanzaro is perfect on 16 attempts and Ted Ginn is 4th in punt return avg(10+ returns). With three very convincing wins coming against San Diego, San Fransisco, and Philadelphia, things are lookin' up for Bruce Arians' boys. St. Louis has been awful, San Francisco has been inconsistent, and Seattle no longer strikes fear into opponents, so the division is Arizona's for the taking. Carson Palmer recently returned, Campbell and Rucker are getting healthy, so watch out, Arizona is for real.
Derrick Spikes II