The Cardinals kick off the second half of the season with a Week 1 rematch against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. Arizona dominated the season opener in route to a 23-13 road victory. The Cardinals held a decisive advantage in first downs (18-13) and time of possession (37:05-22:55). Given the recent happenings in the Bay Area, the 49ers are a team in turmoil. New head coach Mike Singletary has already made several changes, including benching QB J.T. O’Sullivan in favor of Shaun Hill.
Following a tussle with San Francisco, Arizona heads northwest to battle an unraveling Seattle Seahawks squad. Seattle’s historically potent offensive attack has only mustered up 151 points over its first eight games of the year. The Seahawks have been ineffective without the services of QB Matt Hasselbeck and with a severely depleted wide receiving corps. Head coach Mike Holmgren’s fair well tour has been tainted thus far as he’s staring at the worst season of his 17-year career.
After three straight matchups within the division, the Cardinals step up in class with back-to-back outings against NFC East opponents. Arizona welcomes the New York Giants to the desert and travels back east to battle the Philadelphia Eagles. If the Cardinals win their next two games as expected, the team will be 7-3 and could afford to drop both contests in a worst case scenario. However, winning at least one game will be vital in effort to confirm Arizona’s status as a legitimate contender in the NFC.
RB Brian Westbrook
Two of the Cardinals last four games take place at home against division foes St. Louis and Seattle. Both should be winnable games as the Rams and Seahawks have struggled mightily and Arizona has proved to play extremely well on their own turf. The Cardinals are currently 3-0 at home and finish with five of their last eight games at University of Phoenix Stadium.
In Weeks 15 and 16, consecutive games against the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots should gauge the Cardinals’ progress heading into what’s likely to be the team’s first playoff berth since 1998. Minnesota features the services of RB Adrian Peterson and one of the top rushing offenses in the league. Arizona’s trip to New England will mark the teams fifth cross country journey this year where they’re currently 0-3 on the season.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at email@example.com