A loss is always disappointing, but when your quarterback finally plays as well as you know he can, and your legendary wide receiver is just that, LEGENDARY, it makes the loss that much more difficult to swallow. However, in the NFL you have to have a short memory and dwelling on previous weeks won’t do anything to increase your odds of winning the following week. The Arizona Cardinals will look to put their first three weeks in the rear view and will be back home this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. If there were any lingering questions about exactly who the Cardinals are going to be this season, those questions will be answered before your alarm sounds Monday morning.
The division rival 9ers will be bringing their 0-3 record to Glendale this Sunday, but they won’t be bringing an “0-4” mindset with them. Not that the Bird Gang is doing much better, but records in this game have always meant nothing. In 2004 the 9ers went 2-14, both wins coming against Arizona, both being overtime victories. The 9ers went 2-14 again last year, both wins coming against the other division rival Los Angeles Rams. Point being, your division rivals know enough about you to beat you any given Sunday, regardless of who is favored to win. It’s like a sibling rivalry, without any of the love.
Defensive end Solomon Thomas, 2017’s third overall draft pick, has yet to record a sack for the 9ers but that will likely change in week four. Tank Carradine has been placed on the IR, thrusting Thomas into the starting lineup against a Cardinals offensive line struggling to find an identity. With players either injured or contemplating retirement, the identity for Arizona’s offensive line has been at best, questionable. Guard’s Mike Iupati and Alex Boone, both former 9ers, have already been ruled out with injury. Iupati has been placed on the IR and with his contract being worth approximately $8 million next year, it is safe to wonder if he will ever play another down for Arizona. Left tackle D.J. Humphries is also still questionable with injury and right tackle Jared Veldheer hasn’t looked good enough to be a backup, let alone a guy you should trust enough to start and protect a 37 year old quarterback.
On a much brighter note, it appears that Arizona will finally get back $LB, Deone Bucannon, and wide receiver, John Brown. While Arizona’s D held the Cowboys to under 100 yards rushing, and 200 yards passing, they failed to generate any turnovers and still gave up 28 points. Arizona is hoping Bucannon’s play making ability will change that. The same can be said on the other side of the ball. While Carson may have passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns (without an interception), the offense was lacking that explosive weapon they needed to put points on the board and were limited to just 17 points. Brown has showed he is more than capable of being that weapon when healthy.
With David Johnson (RB) out until at least December, and a makeshift offensive line, the game plan for Arizona will likely look the same from here on out – throw, throw, and throw some more. While we’re still blessed with the presence of Larry Fitzgerald, throwing gives the birds the best chance at winning. Every team has that opposing player within their division they are just sick of having to deal with. Larry is that guy to the 9ers. Since he has been drafted, Fitz has gained more than 2,000 yards and scored 16 touchdowns against San Francisco. That’s more than any other receiver, ever. However, if you asked class act Larry about his success against the 9ers he’d remind you of the rivalry we discussed earlier. “My record is like .500 against them, though,” he said. “That’s not what I qualify as success. They beat us during some of the best years. [When] we went to the Super Bowl, I think they swept us that year. It’s always been back and forth.” If the 9ers have any intention in stopping Fitzgerald, they will have to do it without hard hitting safety Eric Reid (knee)and their second of two first round draft picks, Reuben Foster (ankle), as both have been ruled out for week four. One of the few bright spots on San Francisco’s offense, running back Carlos Hyde, is also questionable with a hip injury. He played with the injury in last week’s game so Arizona is certainly preparing to see him. That preparation will come without the help of defensive end, Robert Nkemdiche, who is set to miss another game after reaggravating his calfduring week three’s loss to the Cowboys.
Both teams will show up equally as eager to win as the other, but let’s be honest, this game is a must win for Arizona. A loss puts them at 1-3, and last place in the division. It could be the last year for Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and head coach Bruce Arians. Knowing this, are the Cardinals inspired? Or has the expiration date on the NFL’s oldest team finally passed? The “smell test” takes place this Sunday, October 1st, 2017 at 4:05pm (ET).
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