The injury bug this weekend hit key players on teams that the 3-4 Arizona Cardinals will play coming up in the next 3 to 4 weeks, which gives them a better chance at making a little bit of a run here, let’s look at it. The St. Louis Rams lost their starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the season and they have a game in a few weeks with the Cards, which could be a much needed division win, not that it would help in this division but getting closer to ten wins is the goal.
Then the Houston Texans lose Brian Kushing for the season and also will lose running back Arians Foster for about a few weeks, The Cards will play the Texans after their bye week in 3 weeks, and that could be a big win for the Cards, knowing they don’t have to face the running game led by Arian Foster, and they have to face a short handed defense without their star linebacker. Card’s coming off a bye week having had time to dissect a team headed in the wrong direction; this could easily be a winnable game.
This week of course the Card’s get the short handed Atlanta Falcons with their star wide receiver Julio Jones out for the year, leaving a pretty easy shutdown day of that once explosive pass attack, even if Rody White is healthy enough, he will have to contend with Patrick Peterson all day long, and on a bad wheel he could be a non factor.
The Falcons also have problems up front in protection and don’t do so well with pressure, if the Card’s can slow down their screen game, and oh yeah, that fascinating tight end Tony Gonzalez, which they struggle in stopping that position, it still could be a winnable game. The Cardinals defense has to stop their offense from scoring that 30 points plus they score per game, if they score that high, I don’t think the Cards can keep up, but defense is the name of the game here and the Cards have 10 days of getting rest and will be healthy and will stop the run. Linebacker’s Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington will indeed have their hands full with the Hall of Fame tight end, but I think they will be up for it.
Last, the Cardinals will face the team that their Head Coach Bruce Arians led to a winning season last year while Coach Chuck Pagano was out with leukemia, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts will be without star receiver Reggie Wayne, which is a major piece of their teams operation, not to mention that their running game with newly acquired running back Trent Richardson has not yet yielded the dynamic combination everyone thought it would, and coming in to face the Cards , who are good at stopping the run, this could be another winnable game, simply because it will have so much emotional connection to it for Coach Arians and I know his players would want to get this win for him personally.
I forgot to mention that all of these teams are coming into University of Phoenix Stadium, and mix in a winnable road game to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars this run coming up for the next five to six weeks could propel the Cardinals right into contention for a playoff spot, but they have to take care of their business, especially at home.
The key to getting all of these wins will be the performance of the offensive line, can they establish a running game, and can they keep Carson Palmer upright and with a clean throwing pocket, it may be able to be done because these teams coming up do not pose a big pass rush threat other than Houston’s J.J. Watt.
I think that the running of Andre Ellington will also be a big factor to getting these wins, because all of those teams that are struggling with injuries also struggle in stopping the run.
At 3-4 now, I can easily see the Cardinals get to 6-4 or 7-4, if they get their act together on offense and some what protect the quarterback. Maybe a change in game scheme should be in the mix depending on the opponent, get this offense on track just enough to take advantage of short field position that the defense and special teams will give them. Cardinals need to start fast and finish strong being able to take advantage of these teams while they are down.
If the Cardinals can get to 7-4 they will have a good chance to push for a wild card spot, this would mean that 2 or 3 teams from one division would be in the tournament, not likely to happen, but you never know what teams will struggle down the stretch at a time the Cards could be hitting their stride.