Although it is similar to premature ejaculation to “look forward to the end result” and make “predictions” about the regular season before the final roster has been set, it seems that the Arizona Cardinals are primed to do great things this season, based upon statistics from last season.
In the 2016 season, the Cardinals finished with a record of 7-8-1 and second in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle finished the regular season with a record of 10-6, only two games better than Arizona. Taking 2016 under a microscope, one can notice that, even though the Cardinals did have a lot of injuries, five out of their eight losses were by seven points or fewer.
Arizona will enter 2017 with some new faces, and new mindsets. Head Coach Bruce Arians spoke on NFL Network about the 2016 season saying, “You gotta win close games, The NFL is all about close games. And we had won more close games than anybody in the league previous years. And last year, we lost four games that we had — three by kicks, one by just not playing smart. We could have been smarter. We spent all offseason practicing those scenarios that put you in critical situations so we can be a smarter football team.”
This season could turn one of two ways for the Cardiac Cards.
- They could go down in a blaze of glory, disappointing everyone and once again not finish ballgames. or
- This could be the year that Arizona finishes games, and turns it around, maybe even taking the division crown. They finished two games behind Seattle in the standings, when they played them in the regular season, Arizona beat Seattle once, and tied them the other time.
The Arizona Cardinals, need to turn this year around, and they are primed to do so both offensively and defensively.
On Offense: The team has arguably the most sought after running back in the league, along with the veteran presence of Carson Palmer and of course the long time face of the franchise, Larry Fitzgerald. The three-pronged rushing attack of David Johnson, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will prove deadly to defenses this season. Last season the Cardinals ranked ninth in total offense even ahead of the “high-flying” Seattle Seahawk offense.
On Defense: There are a few young faces and some veterans to watch out for, Budda Baker has been turning heads this preseason, in a defensive unit that already includes three pro bowlers in Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, and Justin Bethel. Haason Reddick has been impressing Coach Arians in training camp. So much so that B.A. spoke to the media, saying “He’s probably the best we’ve ever had as a linebacker, Being able to cover people, it’s just natural ability, having been a safety when he was young.” (See full interview: http://www.azcardinals.com/videos-photos/live-video.html)
It’s not fair to judge a book off it’s cover, and numbers do not mean everything, however, it seems that with the team gelling, and looking at the results from last season, realizing that the Arizona Cardinals missed the division crown by only two games? It seems that the future is bright for this Cardinals squad and they definitely will be one to watch in the upcoming season.
Thanks a lot for reading.
This weekend the Chargers make their 2nd cross country trip in as many weeks, this time taking on the 1-1 Tennessee Titans. Tennessee has been rather unimpressive on both sides of the ball in both of their games so far this season but still are a 1.5 point favorite against the 1-1 Chargers.
The Titans had a boring 16-9 victory over the Steelers in week 1. They followed that up by dropping an overtime game against the Houston Texans.
The Texans game should never have gone to overtime. The Titans punted a whopping 8 times, including 6 3-and-0uts. If not for an untimely penalty on JJ Watt the Titans 1st drive would have been a 7th 3-and-out, instead it became an 80 yard touchdown producing drive.
So let’s take a look at why the Chargers will win.
Reason number 1:
The reason the Titans have been able to stay close despite their pathetic offensive production is their 3rd down defense. Through two games the Titans are only allowing a 33.33% conversion rate on 3rd down and have forced an amazing 14 punts. That is tied for 3rd in the league with Denver. The only teams that have forced more punts are Kansas City, who’s numbers are inflated having played the Jaguars week 1 when they forced 11, and New England who have forced 18. New England, much like the Titans, have had disappointing offensive production so far this season and 3rd down defense has kept it close enough for them to win.
Answer: San Diego, however, is converting 59% (17/29) of their 3rd downs and have only punted 7 times through 2 games. If the Chargers can stay above 50% on 3rd down, the Titans just will not be able to keep up.
Reason number 2:
The weakest link in the Chargers armor so far this season has been their pass defense. Through 2 games the Chargers have allowed a league worst 740 passing yards and 5 passing touchdowns.
Answer: Jake Locker. The Titans QB has passed for 273 yards, lowest among QB’s that have started both games this season, and only 2 touchdowns. Locker has also only completed 56% of his passes this season. The one bright spot for Locker this season is that he has thrown 0 interceptions through two games after averaging 1 per start last season. As long as the Chargers can apply a little pressure and the defensive backs play a DECENT game, Locker shouldn’t be a threat to our biggest weakness.
Reason number 3:
Familiarity. The Chargers played the Titans in week 2 of last season and destroyed the Titans 38-10. They held Locker to 50% completions, under 200 yards passing, and forced an interception. The Bolts defense also kept star RB Chris Johnson bottled up giving up only 17 yards on 8 carries. I’m sure Pagano, Wiz, and McCoy pulled out the tape of last years game and have some great notes. The Chargers also have plenty of familiarity with Jackie Battle who played for the Bolts last year and played for the Chiefs before that.
If all 3 of these situations play out as I talked about above, the Chargers will return home next week with a 2-1 record to face the inconsistent Dallas Cowboys. Even if Fluker can’t play and the Chargers are forced to start Harris at right tackle, between multiple TE sets and with how good some of our RB’s are at picking up blocks, I think Rivers will have enough time to get the ball out. Rivers will not get sacked more than twice and the Chargers win by 10.
As always you can follow me on twitter @boltfanindenver