1st: Overcoming adversity has defined the Cardinals season so far.
- The Cardinals game was so cold and wet it almost transferred through the TV. I grabbed a hoodie and a blanket just to warm up from my couch. Mother nature, history, the University of Oklahoma and injuries all tried to conspire against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday and none of them prevailed. Instead it was another mentally strong performance from this team that helped them improve to 7-0 on the road. The Cardinals have overcome the NFC West, Kyler Murray’s injury, a head coach missing a game due to COVID, Malcolm Butler’s abrupt retirement, JJ Watt’s injury, DeAndre Hopkins’s injury and lack of national respect to become the first team in the NFL to double digit wins. Their ability to accept challenges and prevail in spite of them may be their most impressive accomplishment to date and if they can keep doing it in the playoffs, this team should make a deep run.
1. The Cardinals road record is damn impressive but lets not get carried away.
- 7-0 and winning every game by double digits is absolutely ridiculous for an NFL team to accomplish on the road. The Cardinals have not flinched once away from home and its a testament to their overall mental strength and leadership. HOWEVER, home field advantage is still very much ideal for the playoffs. While most of the NFC contenders play in warm weather or domes, the Cardinals should want to avoid any chance of playing at Lambeau Field at all costs. Right now, the Cardinals are absolute road warriors but come January being a homebody sounds awfully nice.
2. It was fantastic to see the same old Kyler Murray on the field.
- Dropping dimes in DeAndre Hopkins, making professional football defenders look silly and otherwise dazzling with his array of skills was all in a day's work for Kyler Murray on Sunday. We haven't seen him since before Halloween but it looks like Kyler used his time wisely.
- 3. The Cardinals run defense is a concern but isn’t THAT concerning.
Every team has a weakness. Fortunately for the Cardinals, theirs is the run defense. Most teams are not build on a foundation of running the ball even if they have the running back and the ability to do so. Being able to limit a team's air attack is a much more effective weapon to have than a dominant run defense. Plus, its not like the Cardinals are incapable of stopping the run. Most backs they have faced this year have a good quarter or a great half but no one has killed them for four straight quarters.
4. The Cardinals secondary needs a nickname.
- I don't have any ideas but this unit is the best in football. If the Cardinals were a college program, we'd start printing DBU shirts immediately. The last Cardinals secondary to have a nickname was the "No Fly Zone" unit led by Patrick Peterson. This group deserves some love but whether they get it or not will not change how great they have been this season.
5. Impotent and flaccid are two words that aptly describe the Chicago Bears.
- Bears games sound like the script for a boner pill commercial. Punting on 4th and short under two minutes to play trailing by two scores? Did you see Andy Dalton try to spike the ball as time expired in an 11 point game? Just perfect. The Bears rarely even try to stretch the field and by all accounts are unaware that time is not frozen from 1985.
6. DeAndre Hopkins is on pace for one of the weirdest great seasons ever.
- Hopkins is on pace for under 50 catches this season but in no way shape or form does that mean he's not been awesome this year. He's made his touches count most games, racking up 8 TD's. Hopkins will be heard from as the season tightens up but it is weird to almost be used to a few catches and less than a hundred yards from one of the NFL's most prolific receivers. To his credit, we haven't heard a peep of discontent from Hopkins and as long as the team is winning, I wouldn't expect that to change.
- 7. Old Kliff Kingsbury briefly appeared in Chicago, let’s hope thats the last we see of him.
Through two years on the job, the signature Kliff Kingsbury play was not some offensive wizardry or college innovation. No, through two years the Kingsbury was a dead ball foul coming out of a Cardinals timeout. Inexplicable, frustrating delay of games or too many men on the field penalties in close games defined Kingsbury's leadership. This year, the Cardinals have largely avoided that sloppiness but it was back for flashes during this game. Fortunately it didn't cost the Cardinals a W but let's hope its the last time we see that brand of Kliff-ball.
8. Jalen Thompson has become the new litmus test for NFL fandom.
- If someone is bragging about how much they know about football or how much smarter they are about the game than you, just ask them to name the Cardinals starting safeties. Chances are they will know Budda Baker who at least got some love when he was briefly made the highest paid safety in the NFL. If they can't name Jalen Thompson, they're a fraud. Thompson has been a tone setting physical presence flying all over the field for the Cardinals. He's as valuable as any defensive player for the best team in the NFL - you should know his name.
9. Under the Radar Stars
- Andy Lee, James Conner, DJ Humphries and Andy Dalton's mustache.
10. What’s Next? vs. the Rams on Monday Night Football.
- A primetime game against a team with a much higher national profile awaits the Cardinals. Their record against the Rams, Colts and Cowboys over the final five weeks will go a long way towards not only determining how many national folks take them seriously but how good their chances are of actually winning it all. Let the games begin, bring on the Rams.