Monday, November 30, 2015

And Close Wins Over Bad Teams Are Still Wins, Too

Arizona beat the 49ers 19-13, which is not the beatdown I was hoping for, but considering I was worried this was going to be a trap game, where Arizona got cocky and ended up losing, I'll take this result. They let Blaine Gabbert throw for over 300 yards, which is not something I expected to happen. I don't know if it was shoddy tackling, poor coverage, or what. Blake Bell had a 48 yard reception, and Torrey Smith had a 41 yarder. But all that passing only resulted in one TD, which is the important thing.

Arizona didn't turn the ball over, which is good, although Palmer tried to spike it after running for the go-ahead TD, and faceplanted. As long as he didn't concuss himself, I don't really care, though. Chris Johnson had a rough game, only getting 17 yards on 12 carries. He's been slowed significantly in the past few weeks. I don't know if defenses have adjusted to what Arians was doing to try and help him be successful, if he's getting tired, if Iupati's injury has damaged the run blocking, or they're just running into good defenses lately.

It could just have been because it's a division game. Those are usually a little tougher, a little more tense. The Rams were crushed by the Bengals this week, but I doubt Arizona will be able to likewise stomp St. Louis this weekend. As long as they win, that'll be fine, because the Rams are one of the only remaining bad teams left on Arizona's schedule (along with the Eagles, who did a very convincing impression of a team that's packed it in against the Lions on Thanksgiving). And the Seahawks are still lurking 3 games back with 5 games to go.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Close Wins Over Good Teams Are Still Wins

Arizona beat the Bengals 34-31, on a last second field goal by Catanzaro. Said field goal was aided by the refs calling a Bengals' d-lineman for barking out signals to try and get the Cards' to false start, which is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, apparently. It doesn't get called much, but it got called here, to the Bengals' displeasure. Is the Ravens' tendency to whine about the refs screwing them infecting the rest of the AFC North? I would agree 15 yards seems excessive, and like holding (and most other penalties) the refs probably miss/ignore it multiple times a game. But it is a rule, and you got caught, so suck it up and quit bitching. Marvin Lewis is trying to argue his guy was just trying to get the defense set for a run play. Right, the Cards were going to run the football from the 40, with 6 seconds left in the game. How are you going to beat the Patriots if your coach can't lie any better than that? At least learn to deflect with angry sarcasm like Belichek!

Anyway, Palmer played like garbage in the first half, which helped put the Cards behind 14-7. Then he found a groove in the third quarter, and Arizona went up 28-14. Then the Bengals came charging back, and they could have won, if Dalton didn't underthrow A.J. Green on a third down play, forcing Cincy to settle for a tying field goal with a minute left. Arizona got the ball, moved down the field (thanks, prevent defense!), got the helpful penalty, and kicked the field goal. Hooray!

The Cards had three fumbles, but didn't lose any of them. They even managed to recover a fumble by the Bengals. They didn't intercept Dalton, though, which combined with Palmer's 2 INTs, means they lost the turnover battle. But they still won, which is nice. It could have gone either way clearly, but it's nice to see them continue to win some of these close games. Though I wouldn't object if they went back to crushing teams the way they were earlier in the season.

Neither team ran well. The Bengals had 99 yards on 28 carries, the Cards just 82 on 25 carries. Credit to the defenses, although both allowed pretty big passing days for the opposing QBs. Dalton's QBR is 68.8, and Palmer's is 77.9. I mean, even with the two picks, he went 20-31 for over 300 yards and 4 TDs. I'll take that.


Monday, November 16, 2015

The Lost Fumbles Are Starting To Annoy Me

I wouldn't have expected a 39-32 final score when I checked in with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter and it was 5-0, but there you go. Both offenses made some things happen. Or maybe Seattle's defense made some things happen.

The last time Arizona managed to beat the Seahawks, they won despite Carson Palmer throwing 4 INTs. He only threw one this time, but he also lost two fumbles. Still, they won, which is more than they could manage last year with Stanton or Lindley under center.

Multiple Turnovers Carson Palmer: Still much better than the other guys.

Chris Johnson was held to 58 yards on 25 carries, but Ellington went for 61 yards on 6 carries. Arizona's defense largely held Marshawn Lynch in check, though Wilson had some productive runs, and Seattle wound up with 118 yards on the ground overall. He did get picked off once by Mathieu, and had a pretty poor completion percentage (14 of 32, I think), though there are at least three 30+ yard receptions in there. No idea if that was a blown coverage thing or a bad tackling thing.

At any rate, the Cards are now 7-2, three games up on Seattle and the Rams in the division. Of course, they still have another game against each of those teams, plus the Bengals, Packers, and the Vikings, who may actually be good. Oh, and the Eagles and 49ers. I'd feel better about Arizona's situation if they hadn't had a 3-game lead on Seattle last year after 10 games, only to end up losing the division. And Mike Iupati suffered a scary collision last night. He's out of the hospital, but I'd imagine they'll be careful getting him back on the field. We'll see if their offensive line can continue to hold up without him.

On the baseball side, a bunch of Cardinals filed for free agency. Belisle, Broxton, Choate, Heyward, Lackey, Reynolds, and Villaneuva. The Cards made qualifying offers to Heyward and Lackey, both of whom, I assume, turned them down. As well they should, considering people are pegging Heyward for possibly $200 million deals, and Lackey supposedly thinks he can get 3 years and like $40 million.

I have no interest in Lackey at those kinds of dollars, not even with Lance Lynn now done for 2016 with Tommy John surgery. Between Wainwright, Garcia, Wacha, Martinez, Lyons, Cooney, and Marco Gonzales, the Cards ought to be able to cobble together a solid starting rotation. It might not look as good as this year's did, given they aren't likely to match their success stranding runners, but it should still be fine. The offense is still the side that needs to start carrying its weight a little more.

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

For Once, The Turnovers Didn't Kill Them

Chris Johnson lost two fumbles. Larry Fitzgerald lost a fumble. Carson Palmer threw an interception. Even so, Arizona beat the Browns 34-20, and that's after being down 20-7 late in the first half. Thank goodness the Browns aren't very good.

Johnson had a pretty good game other than the fumbles, going over 100 yards rushing again. At this rate, he might already have more rushing yards than anybody the Cardinals have had in the previous 3 seasons. Let me check, no, not quite. Johnson is at 676 yards, and Rashard Mendenhall ran for 687 two years ago. Of course, that was over an entire season, whereas Johnson's only played 8 games so far. So that's a signing that's worked surprisingly well.

Cleveland didn't have much luck running the ball, being held to less than 40 yards on the ground on 20 carries. So outside of Todd Gurley, Arizona's defense has mostly held up against the run this season. It did that last year, too, until the end, but hopefully this year's defense won't be completely fatigued and demoralized by a worthless offense.

Oh, and Michael Floyd went for over 100 yards receiving, including a 60-yard reception. That may have been due to John Brown's absence from the lineup, but it's nice to see Floyd can be productive when given an opportunity.

Next up is Seattle, which is currently having trouble beating a Matt Cassell-led Cowboys' team. I want to take that as a good sign for Arizona's chances, but I can't shake the concern Seattle is still trying to figure out how some of the new pieces fit, and once they do, they'll be a serious problem. Of course, this isn't the NBA, where the Spurs can spend the first few months figuring out such things. If the Seahawks dick around too long, they might miss the postseason entirely. It's still too early to predict that, considering they were still floundering a bit 10 games into last year, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Although even if they falter, there's still the Rams to contend with. Plus the Packers and the Panthers, and whoever is actually good in the NFC East this year (the Giants?).