Road sweet road? A look at Cardinals’ successes away from home
Of course the Arizona Cardinals would have liked to win the NFC West title for the first time since 2015.
They would have loved to end the regular season on a high note. Instead, they dropped a winnable game at home against the Seattle Seahawks, sealing their fate as a Wild Card team for the playoffs.
There’s rarely ever a consolation for losing, but could Arizona’s season finale failings be a blessing in disguise?
After watching a fifth-straight loss at home, it certainly looks that way.
“At this point I feel like maybe,” quarterback Kyler Murray said postgame when asked if it was a good thing for the team to play on the road in the playoffs. “It’s another opportunity that I’m excited for, I haven’t played in the playoffs since I’ve been in the league.”
With a clear discrepancy between their home and away games, let’s take a closer look as to why a road matchup isn’t necessarily the end of the world for the Cardinals:
Road is where the wins are
Let’s start with the obvious — the Cardinals clearly like having that us-against-the-world mentality.
Arizona posted an impressive 8-1 record when playing away from State Farm Stadium. At home, the Cardinals were a pedestrian 3-5.
“Hopefully the Rams stadium’s gonna be rocking I’m sure,” tight end Zach Ertz said after the loss on Sunday. “The way our offense is built, it’s not overly reliant on communication so we’re able to play fast regardless of where we are.
“And when we’re on the road, we have that backs-against-the-wall-mentality and that seems to translate. So that’s the same mentality we’re gonna have.”
Protecting the rock
In hostile environments, quarterback Kyler Murray has done well in keeping the ball out of the defense’s hands, tossing just three interceptions to 15 touchdowns over seven road games.
The same can’t be said for the signal caller at home, however, with Murray throwing nine touchdowns to seven picks.
On top of that, Murray has been sacked 11 times on the road as opposed to 20 times at home.
The Cardinals made a concerted effort in most of their road games to really get the ground game involved.
In all but one of the team’s nine away game, Arizona ran the rock at least 30 times, picking up eight wins in the process. The only loss came when the Cardinals tallied just 21 carries in a lopsided loss to the Detroit Lions.
In those meetings with at least 30 carries, Arizona scored 12 rushing touchdowns while averaging 138.6 yards per game.
Though the Cardinals picked up a lead early on in most of those contests, it’s a formula to follow nonetheless.
Home alone and the sticky bandits
Usually quarterbacks love playing at home.
That hasn’t been the case against the Cardinals, though, as opposing QBs have been sacked 29 times when at home against Arizona (nine games) as opposed to just 12 when playing at State Farm Stadium (eight games).
Letting it fly has also been an issue for signal callers in their own house, tossing 10 interceptions at home compared to three picks on the road.
Home games can quickly turn into road games for QBs when the defense starts rolling. Just ask Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who commented on playing in a “tough environment” during the San Francisco 49ers’ comeback win in Los Angeles.
Get to the point(s)
Despite a game in which the Cardinals scored just 12 points against the Lions, Arizona heads to the playoffs averaging 29.7 points per game on the road.
In six of the team’s nine away games, all wins, the Cardinals scored at least 31 points.
Arizona’s only victory on the road where it didn’t put up 30 points came two weeks ago in a 25-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys.