With three weeks of the NFL season in the books, three teams remain undefeated in the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals. I will break down what each team has done so far and predict what will happen the rest of the season. This article will feature the Cardinals, so check back later in the week for the breakdown of the Falcons and Texans.
The Cardinals are probably the most surprising 3-0 team of the bunch. With games against the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, the Cardinals looked like they were going to start out 1-2 at best, but a new team has been born this year.
Against the Seahawks, the Cardinals had to rebound to an injury to starting quarterback John Skelton, but backup Kevin Kolb came in and looked the guy they traded for, as he went 6-for-8 with 66 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown gave the Cardinals the 17-13 lead and win, which was backed up by the defense, who held the Seahawks on fourth-and-goal to end the game.
The following week against the Patriots, the Cardinals were expected to get slaughtered, but their defense held the Patriots to field goals all the way up until the fourth quarter. Tom Brady was held scoreless for 58 minutes and almost shut out for the first time in the regular season since 2009. A last second score by Rob Gronkowski had the Patriots within two, but a missed two-point conversion had them down 20-18. Fast forward to the last second and the Cardinals were about to lose their first game of the season, but Stephen Gostkowski missed a game-winning field goal after going 4-for-4 in the game and the undefeated season continued for the Cardinals.
Then last week against the Eagles, the Cardinals controlled the game from start to finish. Their defense held the Eagles to six points, forced two fumbles and had five sacks. Quarterback Michael Vick had no chance of getting anything going in the air or on the ground. On offense, the Cardinals had probably their best game rushing thanks to Ryan Williams, who ran for 83 yards on 13 carries. In the air, Kolb threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns en route to the 27-6 win, but the Cardinals received bad news with Beanie Wells who will be out until late November.
So through three weeks, the Cardinals offense has lost its starting quarterback and running back, but the backups have come in and taken over without skipping a beat. On defense, the Cardinals have had one of the best seasons so far and they rank 17th in rushing and ninth in passing. Against the run, the Cardinals have yet to allow a touchdown, and against the pass the Cardinals have only allowed two. The part that stands out the most to me is that they have beaten and stopped two of the best offensive franchises in the league. This Cardinals defense seems to be for real, so as long as they continue to produce, their success relies on how these backups perform on offense all season.
This week, the Cardinals will look to stay undefeated against the 1-2 Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins haven’t really got a passing game going, but running back Reggie Bush is quickly establishing himself as a legit starter in this league, as long as he stays healthy. Bush is questionable this week with a knee injury, so if he can’t go, this game is going to be a breeze for the Cardinals. But regardless of him playing or not, I still think the Cardinals will pull off the win.
As for the rest of the season, the Cardinals schedule looks like this, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.com.
Looking at that schedule, I think the Cardinals have a decent chance of going 7-0. The Rams defense has improved just like the Cardinals, but I don’t think they have a good enough team to beat the Cardinals. The Bills are 2-1, but they have been dealing with a lot of injuries on offense, so it all depends on how healthy they can stay. The Vikings are 2-1 as well, but I think an upset of the 49ers was a miracle. The Vikings have a lot of inexperienced guys starting on offense and defense, and I don’t think they will continue down the winning road. After that, the road gets tough for the Cardinals. Their first meeting with the 49ers is at home, but this 49ers team is tough everywhere. A loss to the Vikings on the road probably woke them up and they will look to prove they are still a Super Bowl contender. Then in Week 9 before the bye, the Cardinals will have to travel to Lambeau Field, which is no fun place to be. I think the Cardinals will enter the bye either 6-3 or 7-2, but if history tells us anything, maybe this is just a fluke. 6-3 is probably the realistic record entering the bye and I am going to say they finish the season 9-7.