Cardinals need a statement win against lesser competition

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) A.J. Green and J.J. Watt
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) A.J. Green and J.J. Watt /

During the first six weeks of the 2021 season, the Arizona Cardinals have blown out some of the best teams from around the league.

In Week 1, the Cardinals were underdogs to the Tennessee Titans, and they responded with a 38-13 showing. Three weeks later, they went into Los Angeles and beat the Rams 37-20, with the final Rams score coming in garbage time. Then, they reset the body clock and headed east into frigid Cleveland, stalling the Browns by a final score of 37-14.

Three wins against three playoff teams from a season ago with a combined score of 112 to 47, if anyone’s keeping track. It shows the Cardinals are a legit contender, and some even say they are the league’s best team.

But they also come with a Buyer’s Beware Tag. I’m talking about the way they play lesser competition like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, and San Francisco 49ers. Pure luck won the game for the Cardinals in Week 2 against the Vikings. They scored just 17 points against the 49ers and struggled in Jacksonville until Byron Murphy‘s pick-six served as the turning point.

In Week 7, the Cardinals play arguably the worst team in football, even if their 1-5 record sits one game ahead of the 0-6 Detroit Lions, who the Cardinals also play later in the year. And they have a lot of demons to exorcise against the Lions. But first, let’s look at this week’s matchup against the Houston Texans.

The Texans, led by quarterback Davis Mills, currently rank 27th in total offense and have scored just 92 points, 31st in the league next to the New York Jets, who were on a bye in Week 6. 26th in total defense after six games, and have allowed 172 points, the fifth-worst in the league.

The Cardinals may be 6-0, and they may have been fun to watch in their blowout wins over Tennessee, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. But if they want to add an exclamation point to this exciting season, they need to start taking care of lesser competition.

They’ve let the likes of Trevor Lawrence and Trey Lance hang with them. And so far in 2021, both have played up and down football at best. Mills may be the weakest link of the 2021 rookie quarterback class – to be fair, he was a third-round draft pick – and the Cardinals cannot afford to keep him and a highly motivated Texans team with nothing to lose and a lot to gain by knocking off a 6-0 team in what would be a major upset.

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On paper, the Cardinals should dominate this one. But recent history shows otherwise. The Cardinals need to rewrite recent history in Week 7. Especially with a Texans team that’s also looking to defeat a couple of former franchise cornerstones in DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt.