The NFC West can’t be decided this week. That is going to come down to the “Sunday Night Football” game at home against the Seahawks. But if the Cardinals can beat the Rams Thursday night, regardless of what happens in the rest of the league over the week, they will all but clinch a playoff berth.
The win would make the Cards 11-3, meaning their worst possible record would be 11-5. This is where the head-to-head wins over the Eagles, Cowboys and Lions this season become crucial. All three of those teams are 9-4. A loss by any one of them means the Cards will make the playoffs (again, assuming a win in St. Louis). Since the Cowboys and Eagles play this Sunday night, that’s practically guaranteed.
There is still a sliver of doubt, and as the Bengals and Panthers can attest, it’s not impossible. It is, however, incredibly unlikely an 11-5 Cardinals team is left at home for the postseason:
Here’s the one scenario which would leave an 11-5 Cardinals team out of the playoffs, as unlikely as it may be:
— The Lions finish 3-0 to go 12-4 (and they still have a game against the Packers).
— The Cowboys and Eagles tie Sunday night, and then each come up with wins in their final two games. That would make them 11-4-1.
(h/t to colleague Kyle Odegard for crunching these numbers.)
That scenario — and assuming the 10-3 Packers avoid what looks like an unlikely 1-2 finish against Buffalo, Tampa and Detroit — would leave the Cardinals at home. But a tie isn’t going to happen. Three more 100-yard rushing games by Kerwynn Williams seems more likely than an Eagles-Cowboys tie. (OK, the mathematicians out there probably would disagree, but you get the point.)
A win in St. Louis would be a major step.
Tags: Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Packers, playoffs, Rams
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If the fact that fullback Ron Wolfley got a carry for the Cardinals the last time the franchise had gone to Dallas and won a regular-season game doesn’t grab you, the fact 22 players on the current roster weren’t even born the last time the Cards won there catches the attention.
Of course, all those “last times” don’t mean much right now, since this current Cardinals team took care of the Cowboys at Jerry’s World and don’t care about much of anything except what’s right in front of them. Again, Sunday’s game wasn’t one you’d bronze. There were a lot of good things, but some divots, especially offensively. But it doesn’t matter after yet another win, and a 7-1 record that stands as the best of not only the NFC but the NFL after the Broncos were knocked around in New England.
No, Tony Romo didn’t play. To that, the Cardinals basically said, so? “We don’t really want to hear the excuses right now,” locker-room sage Frostee Rucker said. (The Cardinals have done the play-with-the-backup-quarterbacks thing. They made it work.)
— The Cardinals stopped DeMarco Murray from reaching 100 yards, the first team to do so this season. It wasn’t as if Murray was ineffective, with 79 yards on 19 carries. But it was a goal to end his streak, and certainly, that fourth-down stand was the game in a microcosm – stop Murray, and you stop the Cowboys. Especially with Brandon Weeden as QB.
— Meanwhile, Andre Ellington outplayed Murray. If it wasn’t for the goal of getting Marion Grice some work, Ellington (95 yards on 21 carries) would have had his first 100-yard game. I thought Ellington battled for extra yards even better Sunday as well. He’s having an excellent season.
— Ellington did get his eyes checked during the game. Bruce Arians said he feared Ellington might be out with a concussion, but Ellington said his helmet came down over his eyes and blurred his vision for a moment.
— Red-zone troubles? No red-zone troubles here. When the Cardinals got there Sunday, they cashed in. Four trips inside the Dallas 20, and Chandler Catanzaro only came on the field for extra points. Even better, all four scores – three of them on Carson Palmer passes – were converted on third down.
— The Cardinals swept the NFC East. After sweeping the AFC South last year.
— Frostee was a little frosty on the sideline at the end of the game, hacked off that he and his teammates couldn’t stop the final Dez Bryant touchdown. It was meaningless, except it wasn’t.
“Me and (Darnell) Dockett were just talking about it, that’s the stuff you look back when the season is over and that’s the difference in being number one in something or being number three,” Rucker said. “Don’t give that up. Don’t give them anything.
“But I’m happy with the performance of all the guys. The team won this game today.”
— With John Carlson, Jaron Brown and Marion Grice all scoring Sunday, the Cardinals have had 12 different players score for them already this season though eight games.
— It was not a good day for the AT&T Stadium press box announcer. The Honey Badger as “Tyson Mathersly”? But it was worse for Cantanzaro, who was a couple of things – “Chancer Catanzaria” for one – before the guy gave up and just said, “Number 7 on to try the extra point.”
— Mathieu gets his first interception. He is certainly doing Honey Badger things again.
— Nose tackle Dan Williams was excellent, beyond his first sack of the season. “I would probably say it’s my best game,” Williams said. “I think I’ve been playing well thus far, doing the things coaches ask of me and make sure we get upfield. I think I actually played like I do each week, it’s just that the guys were cutting back into me, I made a few tackles. Today, I was pretty much just the clean-up man.”
— Larry Fitzgerald with another quietly solid game, with five catches for 70 yards. He fell short of surpassing Michael Irvin on the all-time yardage list, but more important was the touchdowns and a step toward better offensive production.
“We were able to score a little more consistent today,” Fitzgerald said. “But we are still finding out what we are capable of. We took a little bit of a step today. We pride ourselves on being a very smart, intelligent football team.”
— Not great were the five drops, three coming from tight end John Carlson. Carlson did have a touchdown catch, but combined with a holding penalty, it wasn’t his best game.
— This time, all the players earned a Victory Monday. Even the young guys.
— Your walk-off quote, courtesy of Arians: “Having been 1-7 before, 7-1 feels a lot better.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Cowboys, Dan Williams, DeMarco Murray, Frostee Rucker, Larry Fitzgerald, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals had two questionable today, and both guys are playing: safety Tony Jefferson (concussion) and tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) are both playing. The only injury-related absence for the Cards is running back Stepfan Taylor, who is out with his bad calf. New running back Kerwynn Williams is active, along with Marion Grice and Robert Hughes as Andre Ellington’s backups.
Still waiting on the Cowboys’ inactive list, but multiple reports have Tony Romo (not unexpectedly) sitting out with his bad back.
UPDATE: Romo is indeed out today. Also out are starting tackle Doug Free and starting guard Ronald Leary. The Cards’ defense needs to take advantage.
The full Cardinals’ inactive list:
— QB Logan Thomas
— RB Stepfan Taylor
— LB Thomas Keiser
— LB Glenn Carson
— DT Alameda Ta’amu
— G Earl Watford
— TE Darren Fells
Tags: Cowboys, Stepfan Taylor, Tony Jefferson, Troy Niklas
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The Cardinals used to go to Dallas every year when they shared a division address. But it’s been almost a decade since the Cardinals visited the Cowboys – all the way back to 2005, when only two current Cardinals were on the team: Larry Fitzgerald and the sidelined Darnell Dockett.
“That was a long time ago,” Fitzgerald said.
Indeed. Those were the days of Marcel Shipp and Josh McCown and Leonard Davis, the Arizona version. Those were the Dallas days of Keyshawn Johnson and Drew Bledsoe and Marion Barber. (The Cards, by the way, were drilled, 34-13, that day.)
Much has changed, not the least of which the venue, gaudy AT&T Stadium with its gigantic videoboard and 100,000-plus seats. “You can watch it from the sidelines,” Fitz said. “It’ll be fun to watch our defense flying around out there.”
That figures to be the key, doesn’t it? No, not the videoboard but the Cards’ defense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is questionable after skipping practice all week and you’d have to think that makes it unlikely he’d play. But whether it’s a less-than-mobile Romo or a been-sitting-around-and-not-as-good Brandon Weeden, the Cardinals should be able to generate some opportunities. It’ll start by how they handle DeMarco Murray, of course. If Murray dominates, Dez Bryant might be able to be the QB and the Cowboys would be OK. But if the Cards can have some kind of Murray control and force it back into the QB’s hands, then the Cards will be in the game they wanted to dictate.
— Fitzgerald, on following up his stellar seven-reception, 160-yard performance against the Eagles: “A repeat performance all around wouldn’t be a bad thing on the road against the Cowboys,” Fitz said. “I know that much.”
I have a feeling the Cardinals know it too. It feels like Fitzgerald could have another nice outing.
— Fitz needs only 95 yards to surpass Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin in career receiving yards. It’d be kind of sweet to do it in Dallas.
— The Cowboys’ defense isn’t great. It has been good enough. It definitely took a hit with the season-ending biceps injury to linebacker Justin Durant, though. Durant was the Cowboys’ leading tackler.
— The last three times the Cardinals have played the Cowboys, the Cardinals have won on the final play of the game. In 2008, it was Sean Morey’s blocked punt recovered by Monty Beisel in the end zone in OT. In 2010, it was Jay Feely’s 48-yard field goal as the clock ran out. In 2011, it was a 52-yard screen pass to the Hyphen – LaRod Stephens-Howling – from quarterback Kevin Kolb for a touchdown.
— For those asking – for a road game, even! – the Cardinals are wearing red Sunday. The Cowboys almost always wear white at home.
— I’d expect Marion Grice to get at least a carry or two Sunday now that Stepfan Taylor is sidelined. Bruce Arians said Grice was ready, although he said Friday he was happy with Grice “until he dropped that handoff today.”
— Safety Deone Bucannon was not fined for the helmet-to-helmet hit on Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin, the one that caused the Patrick Peterson concussion. Cornerback Jerraud Powers was fined, $16,537 for his horse collar tackle in the same game. Eagles defensive lineman Trent Cole was dinged $22,050 for hitting Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in the helmet.
— Arians said Peterson will cover Dez Bryant some of the time Sunday, but Peterson will not exclusively be on the Pro Bowl wide receiver.
— Punter Drew Butler has played at “JerryWorld” before, having punted for the Steelers in a 2012 overtime loss to the Cowboys. Did he hit the videoboard with any punts?
“Of course you try in pregame,” Butler said. “It’s a little ego boost there. I hit it a few times.”
Butler said hitting it in-game isn’t an issue because it’s inside the hashmarks and kicks are almost always angled outside the hashmarks. A bigger issue, he said, is because it gets dark higher up, sometimes the gunners have a hard time picking up the ball as it drops from the sky.
— Arians had his own description on playing in the Cowboys’ Dallas palace.
“It’s different,” Arians said. “It’s all those fans when you come in, like you’re walking out of a nightclub. It’s got an unbelievable gladiator feeling to it because you’re walking through the fans and they’re throwing (expletive) at you.”
On to Dallas.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Cowboys, Deone Bucannon, Drew Butler, Jerraud Powers, Larry Fitzgerald, Marion Grice, Patrick Peterson
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Cowboys, Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald, NFL, Throwback Thursday
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Maybe the Cardinals are first and foremost survivors. Maybe they need to find more of a pass rush and be more consistent offensively. (Maybe those aren’t maybes.) Regardless, after tonight’s Washington overtime upset win in Dallas, the 6-1 Cardinals are alone at the top of the NFC standings.
It doesn’t change the impact of the coming road trip to Dallas. If the Cardinals lose, they are still in good shape as they hit the season’s midway point. But they won’t be the top team in the NFC. With nine games left on the schedule, a lot can still happen, with five games inside the division, with the Cowboys, with the 6-2 Lions coming to Arizona. Always nice to be in control of your own destiny, though.
The Cowboys game got a little more interesting, though. DeMarco Murray was great again. But Tony Romo had to leave the game with a bruised back, and while he came back in, you wonder if Romo — who had back surgery in the offseason — will have any lingering effects. Plus, the Redskins blitzed the heck out of Romo, leading Romo to comment about how much the zero blitz came. Clearly, he hasn’t watched any Cardinals’ film yet.
Tony Romo seems to be convinced injury not serious. See how he feels when painkilling injection wears off; short week for blitz-heavy Cards
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) October 28, 2014
Tags: Cowboys, NFC, Tony Romo
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Before Calais Campbell got hurt a couple of plays into the second half of last weekend’s game in Denver, the Broncos had exactly four rushing yards. On seven attempts. With Campbell out of the game, the Broncos got 88 yards rushing on 21 tries.
There were, of course, other factors. The defense eventually got tired in the fourth quarter because the Cardinals could not generate any offense and stay on the field. But make no mistake, Campbell is an important part of the run defense. So too is Matt Shaughnessy, who was playing hurt in Denver and now is out a couple months with a knee injury. How the Cardinals deal with the loss of Campbell and Shaughnessy and hold up against the run, in my opinion, is the linchpin of keeping this season together as the Cardinals deal with all their injury-related setbacks.
If the Cardinals can continue to play like a top-five run defense — and they are fifth right now — they will stay in games. Certainly, the next stretch of the schedule will test that. The Redskins have Alfred Morris. The Eagles have Shady McCoy. And the Cowboys have the leading rusher in the NFL in DeMarco Murray. Getting Campbell back sooner rather than later will help, but there no way to know right now exactly when that will be. At this point, the Cards can’t afford to wait for reinforcements anyway. They must perform with who they have.
Tags: Alfred Morris, Calais Campbell, Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, Eagles, Matt Shaughnessy, Redskins, Shady McCoy
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Forbes came out with another list ranking the (estimated) value of sports teams, in this case, the world’s 50 most valuable franchises. The Cardinals make the list at No. 40, with an estimated worth of $961 million. Only the Raiders and Jaguars don’t make the top 50 list among NFL teams, meaning that even though it is top-heavy with soccer clubs (the top three are soccer, a major nod to the global fan base the sport produces) the list still provides context of how powerful the NFL — which dominates the United States — remains.
The top team is the soccer club Real Madrid, valued at $3.44 billion. The top non-soccer franchise is the New York Yankees, worth $2.5 billion, at No. 4. The top NFL team is at No. 5, with the Dallas Cowboys coming in at $2.3 billion. The Patriots, Redskins and Giants are also in the top 10.
Among NFC West teams, the San Francisco 49ers ($1.224 billion) are 20th, the Seattle Seahawks ($1.081 billion) are 28th, and the St. Louis Rams ($875 million and hoping for a new stadium, which would boost their value) are 45th.
Tags: 49ers, Bill Bidwill, Cowboys, Forbes, Giants, Michael Bidwill, Patriots, Rams, Redskins, Seahawks
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The Cardinals released Ryan Williams last week, and Saturday — after a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys — Williams tweeted out that he was going to be signing with Dallas. Considering the marketplace for running backs these days and Williams’ history of injuries, it really was a remarkably quick move to another roster. The top three running backs on the Cowboys’ roster right now are DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar. Murray is the unquestioned starter, but there’s a chance Williams could burrow his way in the mix.
Whether Williams sticks around into the season, and whether he is playing at all when the Cardinals go play the Cowboys in Dallas Nov. 2 is a whole different story. But it will be intriguing to see if fresh surroundings can jump-start the former second-round pick’s career.
“I’ve just had bad luck,” Williams told DallasCowboys.com. “Things happen. I believe everything happens for a reason. I’m here to prove that I can be a running back that can come back from these injuries. It’s tough when you’re constantly reminded about it. When you’re constantly doubted about it. I believe in my own abilities. When I’m healthy, there’s no one who can tell what I can’t do.”
God is great, IMA COWBOY NOW, blessed and ready to show yall wht yall couldnt see las yr for whtever reason, too hype right now
— Tuxedo Mask (@lilsweetness34) May 17, 2014
Tags: Cowboys, Ryan Williams
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The NFL announced today that three teams will host games in London during the 2014 season: Jacksonville, Oakland and Atlanta. Why does that matter? Because you never know if the Cardinals could get picked to be the visiting team to a London game.
The Cards don’t play Jacksonville next season. But they do travel to Oakland, and with an away game at the “matching” NFC South team wherever they finish, there is a chance the Cardinals could have a road game in Atlanta next season — making then two of the three London games possible. We are far away from knowing for sure, of course, but it’s an interesting tidbit to chew on.
So, as long as we are discussion the 2014 opponents — because why wouldn’t you five games into the previous season — here is the list of the Cardinals’ schedule-to-be:
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
NFC North “like” finisher (If Cardinals finish in second place in division, for instance, they play the second-place team from NFCN)
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
New York Giants
NFC South “like” finisher
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
Tags: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, London, opponents, Raiders, Redskins, schedule
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