The final countdown: A look at the Cardinals’ remaining matchups in 2021
With the bye done and over with, it’s time for the Arizona Cardinals to reengage for a final playoff push to end the season.
On the line for Arizona is not only a trip to the postseason, but also a chance at securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the bye that comes with it.
In the Cardinals’ way stands six matchups, three on the road and three at home, to close out the regular season.
A look at Arizona’s remaining opponents on the 2021 schedule:
When and where: Week 13 in Chicago
Last five games: 1-4
Fresh off their bye, the Cardinals travel to Chicago for a Week 13 matchup with the Bears.
Chicago has had its moments this season, but for the most part has underwhelmed, sitting at 4-7 and third in the NFC North.
The Bears sit 31st in yards per game (296.1), is the worst team in the league in passing yards per game (169.8) and has given up the most sacks (37) through 12 weeks.
Most of their losses came during a five-game losing streak that was narrowly ended on Sunday with a 16-14 win over the 0-10-1 Detroit Lions.
After turning to signal caller Andy Dalton to start the season, Chicago has since given the ball to rookie Justin Fields.
In eight starts, the quarterback has completed 58.5% of his throws for 1,291 yards and four touchdowns to seven interceptions. He’s also rushed for 277 yards and a score on 45 carries.
The rookie’s status for Week 13 remains unclear, however, after missing Sunday’s game with cracked ribs.
In his place was Dalton, who threw for 317 yards, a touchdown and one interception on 61.5% passing (24-of-39) in Chicago’s win over Detroit.
Los Angeles Rams
When and where: Week 14 in Arizona
Last five games: 2-3
Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Rams are reeling.
Losers of three straight, the Rams’ impressive start to the season has taken a turn.
After falling 28-16 to the Derrick Henry-less Tennessee Titans in Week 9, Los Angeles was embarrassed by the San Francisco 49ers the following week in a 31-10 defeat.
Then came last week’s lackluster showing against the Green Bay Packers. The Rams running game totaled just 68 yards on 20 carries, while the Los Angeles defense surrendered nearly 400 yards of total offense.
Despite the downturn in the win-loss column, the Rams sit seventh in total yards per game (384.1) and fifth in passing yards per game (288.9).
Fortunately for the Rams, they have a golden opportunity to snap their losing streak in Week 13 against the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars before heading to the Valley in Week 14.
When and where: Week 15 in Detroit
Last five games: 0-4-1
There’s not much going right for the Detroit Lions.
Even when it looks like Detroit will pick up a win, it seems to get in its own way.
Through 12 weeks, the Lions are 28th in total yards per game (376.8) and 29th in rushing yards per game (133.9).
Quarterback Jared Goff has played uninspiring ball in his first year in Detroit, sitting 24th among NFL quarterbacks in passing yards (2,280) to go along with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.
When and where: Week 16 in Arizona
Last five games: 3-2
Merry Christmas from the desert.
After starting out 0-3, the Indianapolis Colts have won six of their last nine games, highlighted by a 41-15 beatdown of the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago.
Outside of that victory, Indianapolis doesn’t necessarily have a glowing track record, with wins over the then-struggling 49ers, Jaguars, Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins.
It looked like the Colts might add a decent victory over the Buccaneers after controlling most of the game this past Sunday, but a second-half rally by Tampa Bay slammed the door on Indy in a 38-31 loss.
Through 12 weeks, the Colts are 11th in total yards per game (366.3) and fourth in rushing yards per game (144.5).
A lot of that success on the ground can be credited to running back Jonathan Taylor. The back paces the NFL in rushing yards (1,205) and touchdowns (14). Taylor is averaging an impressive 5.8 yards per carry as he vies for the NFL rushing title.
Defensively, the Colts are 20th in terms of points per game, allowing 23.6 per contest.
When and where: Week 17 in Dallas
Last five games: 2-3
The Dallas Cowboys mark the second playoff-caliber team in this exercise that is currently experiencing a losing skid, having lost three of their last four, including back-to-back defeats to the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has been huge for Dallas this season, throwing for at least two touchdowns in all but two games this season. He’s completed 69.4% of his passes for 2,932 yards and 22 scores through 10 games played.
But as consistent as the signal caller has been, the same can’t be said for the team’s rushing attack.
After enjoying a four-game stretch that netted him 419 yards and four touchdowns, running back Ezekiel Elliott has struggled to find that same consistency as of late. Since his last 100-yard outing (Week 5), Elliott has recorded 268 yards and three scores on 75 carries.
But even with a sputtering running game, the Cowboys still hold the top spot offensively in the NFL, averaging 419.8 total yards per game. They sit third in terms of points per game with 29.6.
When and where: Week 18 in Arizona
Last five games: 1-4
How the mighty have fallen.
Once a perennial playoff contender, the Seattle Seahawks are staring at the potential end of an era.
Seattle has endured three separate losing streaks this season and are currently on a three-game skid after Monday night’s ugly loss to the Washington Football Team.
Nothing seems to be working right for Seattle, whether it be offensively or defensively.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has not played up to his typical standards, though midseason finger surgery didn’t help matters. There’s also the fact the team is rolling out a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron, who was hired back in January to replace Brian Schottenheimer.
In eight games played, Wilson has completed 64.9% of his passes for 1,811 and 12 touchdowns to three interceptions. He’s also rushed 26 times for 118 yards and a score.
Wilson’s downturn in play has contributed to one of the worst teams offensively, sitting 31st in total yards per game with 295.7 yards.
Defensively, Seattle isn’t any better, allowing the most yards per game in the NFL at 399 yards. Much of the blame can be put on the passing defense, which is giving up 274.1 yards per game, the second-most in the league behind only the Baltimore Ravens.