Whew! Now that the “pressure” of going 16-0 has been released, the Arizona Cardinals can look to regroup in week two against a team who actually looked much worse than they did. Bruce Arians and company will be on the road again in week two when they head to Indianapolis to take on the Colts, coached by Bruce’s longtime friend, Chuck Pagano. When Pagano was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Arians served as the interim head coach and went on to win coach of the year honors that same year. While the two may be likely to have dinner before or after game day, with hugs and handshakes before kickoff, the gloves on both of these proven fighters are coming off once the ball is in the air this Sunday. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
Neither team had any luck in week one, and with the Colts already announcing they’ll be out of Luck (Andrew) again this week, this is a must win for the Bird Gang. With so many things being able to happen throughout a 16 game season, calling week two a must win might call for a bit of eye-rolling, but let’s look at the facts. According to OddsShark, since 2007 there have been 75 teams that started off 0-2. Only eight (9.4%) of those teams made the playoffs. Should the Cardinals start off 0-2, you can be assured that their odds won’t be any better, especially with the recent loss of running back David Johnson. As if an ugly week one loss wasn’t enough, Johnson has been diagnosed with a dislocated wrist that requires surgery and will miss two to three months. With Johnson being one of the most dynamic running backs in the league, the Red Birds song of sorrow will undoubtedly be hummed along by fantasy owners throughout the land as well.
Carson Palmer had a poor game against the Lions. Period. Someone watching a game for the first time could tell you that. Sure, in week one the birds were probably a bit rusty and out of sync. Receivers probably ran a few bad routes and had a handful of dropped passes. Occasionally, Lions defenders just made great plays. But it doesn’t matter. Those are all excuses. It was week one for the Lions too, and the scoreboard doesn’t care how the turnovers happened or who’s fault they were. Say what you will about Carson but one thing is clear, he is a leader. After a loss he’ll be the first to take blame, just as he did after the Lions game. At age 37, and after battling back from two reconstructive knee surgeries, Palmer is here because he wants to win. Remember in 2011 when Carson was quoted saying, “I have $80 million in the bank. I don’t have to play football for money. I’ll play it for the love of the game.”? The only thing that has changed since is his age, and the amount of money in his account. CP3 and the Red Sea want their first ring equally as bad. Don’t doubt it. On the other hand, the desire to win isn’t always enough to keep fans on your side. Only winning can do that. So if Carson Palmer is as resilient as head coach Bruce Arians says he is, he will need a big game in Indy this week against a Colts D that is missing a key pass defender in cornerback, Vontae Davis. The all-pro corner injured his groin in week three of the preseason and has not been able to practice since. Carson can’t do it by himself, though. Outside of Larry Fitzgerald, someone else will need to step up. Jaron Brown got the start at receiver last week and ended the game without a catch. John Brown looked good, but appears to be suffering from yet another injury (quad) and has missed multiple days of practice. Jermaine Gresham (TE)got suplexed on to the injury report (ribs) and has also missed multiple practices this week. Someone needs to step up. Will it be David Johnson’s replacement, Kerwynn Williams? JJ Nelson (WR)? Bueller?… Bueller?
Other notables joining Vontae on the injury list are offensive players Andrew Luck (QB), Ryan Kelly (C), and Denzelle Good (RT). After watching film of the loss to Detroit, there was no sight of Carson Palmer on defense. While his poor play may have contributed to putting the defense in a few tough positions, he wasn’t in charge of preventing Matthew Stafford from putting together another fourth quarter comeback. In all fairness, there was also no sight of Deone Bucannon (LB) and Robert Nkemdiche (DE), either. Both sat out with injuries against the Lions making the comeback against a tired defense a bit easier. Barring any setbacks, it appears that Bucannon and Nkemdiche have a good shot at playing in Indy as they have taken part in limited practices this week. Nkemdiche looked like a monster in preseason before being sidelined to a calf strain causing him to be inactive the final two preseason games and week one of the regular season. He should be salivating at the chance to redeem what was for the most part a disappointing rookie season. He will be going against a backup quarterback, protected by a backup right tackle, so don’t be surprised if Robert has a big day. The Colts quarterback isn’t the only one that is going to be protected by a backup tackle. Cardinals left tackle DJ Humphries is still out another one to two weeks with an MCL sprain. Even after all of the injuries, and a dismal week one performance, Carson Palmer has remained positive. In his most Aaron Rodgers-esque interview, Palmer reminded fans that the “the sky is not falling”, not yet anyways…but it’s certainly gloomy out.
The Cards will look to clear the skies this Sunday, September 17th. Kickoff is set for 10am, Pacific Time.
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