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NFL.com top-5 CB tandems include Peterson, Mathieu

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrates with cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) after intercepting a pass in the end zone in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

There’s no denying it, the Arizona Cardinals defense has been elite over the last few years and according to NFL analyst Ike Taylor, the combination of Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson could be the reason why it will continue to cause headaches for opposing coaches in 2016.

Taylor broke down his list of the top-five cornerback tandems in the league and the duo of Peterson and Mathieu made the list.

2) Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals

I might be bending the rules with this pick, but it is my list. Although officially labeled a safety for the Cardinals, Honey Badger frequently assumes the role of nickel/slot corner, lining up inside or outside, depending on how Arizona sets up matchups in man or zone coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, Mathieu played 68 percent of his snaps in 2015 as a slot corner, 24 percent at strong safety and eight percent at free safety. Mathieu might not have top speed, but his coverage and anticipation skills allow him to make big plays. He was dynamic as ever last season, recording five INTs and 17 passes defensed.

I’ve already said that Peterson is the most valued defensive back in the league, but here are some more numbers to support my argument. Peterson ranked first among all qualified NFL cornerbacks in passer rating allowed (45.6) in 2015. He covered top receivers each week and only gave up two touchdowns all season.

Even with a shortened season due to a torn ACL, Mathieu led his team with five interceptions, one sack, 89 tackles, a forced fumble and 16 passes defensed. Peterson added two interceptions, 35 tackles, a forced fumble and 10 passes defensed for the Cardinals.

Since Peterson came into the league in 2011, he has 246 tackles and 17 interceptions. Mathieu has 194 tackles and eight interceptions since he joined the Cardinals in 2013.

The Cardinals may have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league, but there are a few names that could also come in and contribute alongside the duo.

During his time in Arizona, Justin Bethel has 105 tackles, six forced fumbles and two interceptions.

Joining Peterson, Mathieu and Bethel on the field in 2016 are rookie cornerbacks Brandon Williams and Harlan Miller. Before being selected in the third round, Williams had 38 tackles during his time with Texas A&M. Sixth-rounder Miller had 122 tackles and 11 interceptions in four seasons for Southeastern Louisiana University.

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