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ESPN’s Sando: Cardinals ‘flawed, but not yet pretenders’

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

The Arizona Cardinals’ 2-3 start has put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

While the Cardinals are not out of contention in the NFC West, how their quarterback performs will be the key to reach to postseason. Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer was out during last week’s 33-21 game against San Francisco due to the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Heading into Monday’s game against the New York Jets, ESPN writer Mike Sando gave his take on the league’s contenders and pretenders and placed Arizona in his “Flawed, but not yet pretenders” category alongside Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Arizona Cardinals (2-3): The Cardinals have the quarterback, running back and pass-rush personnel to factor when it counts. But they’ve suffered enough turnover along the offensive line to call into question whether Carson Palmer can get comfortable and stay on the field. If Palmer remains a question mark, the Cardinals will drop into the pretender category.

Palmer has started 22 of the Cardinals’ last 23 games, so concerns about his health might be unfairly called into question. However, his play has dropped off from 2015. Through his first four games this year, Palmer has a QB rating of 81.9, which ranks 24th among 31 qualified NFL quarterbacks.

The veteran quarterback will have to take advantage of the Jets (1-4) during in order to continue the salvage operation of their playoff hopes.

The Jets rank 22nd in yards allowed per game but rank 31st with 303 passing yards allowed per game. On the flip side, the Jets are first in run defense, allowing just 68.4 yards per game. If Cardinals’ running back David Johnson, who is currently fifth-best in rush yards per game, isn’t able to have a considerable impact on the game, Palmer will have to find a way to get the offense going.

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