No need to panic about the Cardinals

Oct 6, 2015, 8:50 AM | Updated: Oct 7, 2015, 11:38 am
St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (21) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wid...
St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (21) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Football brings a wild swing of emotions on a week-to-week basis depending on the outcomes of games. After a win, the tendency is to overreact in a positive fashion, while a loss leads to “the end of the world.”

While it’s not good that Arizona lost 24-22 to a division foe at home, the Cardinals are still a good football team.

Think about all of the circumstances surrounding Arizona’s first defeat of the season:

• David Johnson fumbled the opening kickoff giving the Rams a short field for their first TD.

• Arizona settled for four field goals in the red zone.

• They were 2-for-11 on third down.

• The Cards lost the turnover battle 3-0.

• Benny Cunningham fumbled, the Cardinals recovered, and they didn’t get to keep possession because of an awful decision by an official.

• Johnson dropped an easy touchdown pass.

The Cardinals still only lost by two points with all of the above going against them.

During the first three weeks of the season, we witnessed what can happen when everything is clicking for this Cardinals team. They had an NFC best +77 point differential and that included an even turnover margin in two of three games. Arizona still has an NFC best +75 point differential after their two-point loss, 32 points ahead of the next best team, the Atlanta Falcons.

Week 4 was an example of the Cardinals at their worst.

Your average NFL team gets blown off the field playing with the level of sloppiness Arizona did on Sunday. Again, the Cards lost by two points and had an opportunity to win the game in the fourth quarter. Just like the they weren’t going to score touchdowns on every red zone trip (11-for-12) as they did in the first three games, the Cardinals won’t struggle as much as they did versus St. Louis going forward.

This is a great illustration of why a better indicator of true Super Bowl contenders is the ability to blow out teams out versus winning close games. If a team puts itself in position where one call or one lucky bounce can cost you, there’s always the chance the break doesn’t go your way.

Arizona went 10-4 in one-score games during head coach Bruce Arians’ first two seasons, a winning percentage that in all likelihood was not sustainable. The Cardinals also only won two games by over 20 points throughout those 32 matchups, a feat they’ve already matched across the opening four contests of 2015.

Coming up, Arizona faces a Detroit Lions team that just lost to the Seahawks despite forcing three turnovers and scoring a defensive touchdown. Then it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger, a floundering Baltimore Ravens squad and the Cleveland Browns who’ve allowed 672 yards passing in their last two games.

It would be a shocking development if the Cardinals didn’t head into their bye with a 7-1 record.

Even in a loss there were positives to take from a big picture perspective regarding the Cardinals this season. They showed they can compete and put themselves in position to win when there’s less than optimal footing. Over the next 12 games, this will certainly happen again and finding a way to win one or two of those will likely be the difference in whether they win the NFC West or finish behind the Seahawks for a third straight season.

Sunday didn’t fall in the Arizona Cardinals favor, but all evidence still points to this season ending with success.

 

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