The month of November will be very telling about who and what the Arizona Cardinals of 2009 are all about, facing five teams that are currently a combined 7-25 heading into today’s action. It all starts with a home game at 2:15 pm today against a surprisingly struggling Carolina Panthers team (2-4).
Arizona’s defense must be salivating, at least the secondary. After struggling for the first four games somewhat, the secondary had a big game last week against the New York Giants, intercepting Giants quarterback Eli Manning three times. Now they get to face Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme, who has thrown and NFL-high 13 interceptions.
Many will say he has never recovered from the six interceptions he threw back in January in the playoff game in which Arizona went to Carolina and blasted the Panthers right out of the playoffs with a 33-13 victory.
However, even given the Panthers struggles so far this season, their running game seems to have picked up the past couple of weeks and it all starts and ends with Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. However, as we all know, the Cardinals are number one in the NFL against the run, allowing only 67.5 yards per game.
Arizona’s offense on the other hand, it could be argued that they still have not hit their stride. The flow from 2008 still hasn’t shown up on a consistent basis. Whatever it is they are trying to do though, it’s working. The play calling still remains a little suspect at times, however it was nice to see running back Chris “Beanie” Wells get 14 carries last week. Hopefully he may even see a few more today.
You could throw all that away though if you wanted to re-visit the regular season match-ups between these two teams. Carolina has won five of the past six games in the regular season. Really though, it seems as if this contest is slighted in the Cardinals favor. The Panthers only two victories have come against the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s not exactly much to write home about to be honest. Last week in the loss to Buffalo, they lost 20-9 at home despite out-gaining the Bills 425-167 in offense. Four turnovers were the key.
So, even if the Cardinals still search for offense on this warm, sunny day in Arizona, the defense may end up being the key once again. They need to shut down an improving running game and also continue to expose Delhomme’s struggles at quarterback.
The Cards may not run away with this one, but should do enough to take them to 5-2. After thinking about earlier predictions this week and taking into account where both teams are truly at, I say Arizona 34 Carolina 21.