The Arizona Cardinals head into Sunday’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins in unfamiliar territory, this franchise isn’t used to being favored to win. Even when they went to the Superbowl a few years back it was a surprise to everyone, people were calling the Cardinals the worst team to ever make it there until they almost won. Playing the underdog is a role the team is accustomed to, being expected to win is a completely different situation and mindset, and how this team responds to that change will determine how good they can really be.
The Buffalo Bills were sitting pretty at 3-0 after beating Tom Brady and the mighty Patriots last year (sounds familiar), only to go 3-10 for the rest of season. I’m not saying the Cardinals are destined for the same fate as the Bills by any means, but how a locker room handles early success shapes the mold of a team’s persona. The Cardinals can’t take a home game against an inferior opponent lightly, these are the games they need to win if Arizona wants to make the playoffs.
Earlier this week on KTAR 620 A.M., Coach Wisenhunt said all he needed to do to get his guys focused was say “1-6″, the record Arizona started out with last season. Once Ray Horton’s defense began to take hold, the team began to win, and hasn’t stopped since. After seeing the defense own opposing offenses so far this season it’s easy to believe Ryan Tannehill will be in for a long day and the presence, or lack thereof, of hurt RB Reggie Bush will impact Miami’s offensive ability greatly. The Cardinals have some big injury issues of their own. Beanie Wells was just placed on IR due to turf toe, Darnell Dockett is doubtful due to a tweaked hamstring, LaRod Stephens-Howling is out, and Adrian Wilson is still questionable. Even with all of these injuries the Cards are still favored to win by Vegas.
Coming off last week’s performance, Kevin Kolb is one or two good games away from solidifying himself as the starter. He’ll be facing an underrated Miami defense in this one, they’re especially tough against the run, and the Cardinals are already severely thin at that position for this game. Ryan Williams looked legit last week, and he’ll have to continue that so this offense doesn’t become one-dimnesional. We’ve all enjoyed seeing Kolb get some W’s under his belt, but he still hasn’t shown he can carry an offense by himself. It will be very interesting to see how he performs with a defense focused on him for almost all of the game.
Ryan Tannehill has shown why he’s a 1st round pick this season, but he’s also showed why he was considered raw coming out of college. With few playmakers on offense (basically none if Bush is out), it will be a struggle for Miami to move the ball on this imposing defense with a young quarterback. Miami’s defense could very well keep the game close though, LB Karlos Dansby has to be pumped to play his former team. Arizona’s offense has made enough plays to go undefeated in this short span, but they’re still closer to the bottom in scoring. If Miami beats the Cards and their killer defense it would have to be at their own game and I just don’t see that happening. The Cardinals will keep their place atop their division and remain undefeated after putting a hurt on the Dolphins, 30-13.
About the Author
Written by Thomas Mitchell
Born & raised in Arizona, part of the MJ generation. Lifelong sports fanatic