After the bye week the (2-1) Denver Broncos will face the (3-0) Arizona Cardinals back home at Mile High Stadium. The Cardinals are currently also enjoying a super early bye week, so both teams will be well rested and eager for another win.
What did I know about the Cardinals before writing this article? Not much really. Other than I felt they were the best team to not make the playoffs last season.
Do I think the Broncos will beat the Cardinals? Of course (I'm a Broncos fan! That's my job.)
Do I think this game will be easy breezy? Of course not. That would be silly. They are 3-0 against two teams that made the playoffs last season.
So how has the Cardinal's season gone so far?
It's been a bit bumpy personal wise. Which makes 3-0 all the more notable. Yes, they have Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson, but they also lost a lot of players to season-ending injuries (Darnell Dockett - DE & John Abraham - OLB), free agency (Karlos Dansby - ILB), and suspensions (Daryl Washington - ILB). Oh yeah, and their QB Carson Palmer hasn't even played the last two games due to a nerve injury.
How about the games themselves:
Week 1 - Win. Home game.
Cardinals 18 - Chargers 17
While the not-very-nice part of me wants to just look at this game as another Monday Night football meltdown for the Chargers, let's face it, the Chargers are a damn fine football team this year. Any win against them is notable and the Cardinals get points for taking advantage of the Chargers mistakes.
I do however like that the Cardinals not only beat the Chargers, but two weeks later signed one of their running backs, Marion Grice, off the Chargers practice squad onto their 53 man roster. Maybe the Chargers always planned to look elsewhere for their running back needs after putting Danny Woodhead on IR, but I'm guessing the Chargers were not very pleased about that whole deal.
Week 2 - Win. Away game.
Cardinals 25 - Giants 14
Oh, the Giants.
Back-up quarterback Drew Stanton (who was Andrew Luck's back-up when Bruce Arians was coaching in Indy) shows that he can get a ‘W' while Carson Palmer recovers from his nerve injury. The Cardinals scored 15 points in the 4th quarter after falling behind 10-14. Not bad for a backup quarterback's first game which was the team's first away game.
Week 3 - Win. Home game.
Cardinals 23 - 49ers - 14
I feel like this game does a good job of highlighting one of the Cardinal's strengths: their coaching staff. To me a team that can make adjustments at half time is usually a team that is well coached and can never be counted out of a game. Here are a few factual tidbits about the Cardinals/49ers game in Week 3:
Yards 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick rushed in the first half: 45
Yards 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick rushed in the second half: 9
49er first downs in the first half: 13
49er first downs in the second half: 7
Points scored by the 49ers in the second half: Zero
3rd and 4th downs the Cardinals converted against the 49ers: 9 of 14
But here is what you've got to love if you're a Cardinals fan:
Number of interceptions thrown in the first 3 games of the season: ZERO.
I'm sure the Broncos defense would love to change that number very soon.
The last time the Broncos and the Cardinals played in the regular season it was Dec 2010. Don't remember that game? That's probably for the best. I will however give you a virtual high five if you can name the Broncos head coach for that game without googling it.
Other interesting note: this will be the last game of Matt Prater's suspension, coincidentally he also missed the last Broncos/Cardinals matchup with a groin injury. Prater's replacement, Brandon McManus, hasn't really been tested much in the first three games he's played with the Broncos. I'm willing to bet Prater and most Broncos fans would be happy to keep it that way as long as that meant the Broncos offense was too busy scoring touchdowns to deal with field goals.
The Broncos are 7-1-1 against the Cardinals all-time. Here's to 8-1-1.
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