Ok, I didn’t do so great last week with my prediction, but it happens. I predicted a 27-20 win for the Cardinals and they fell flat on their faces. I did not expect the Lions run defense to be so effective and I certainly didn’t see the Lions secondary being third in the league in pass breakups after one week.
So with a week under our belt and getting to see some real football action, let’s try again.
Arizona Made Some Moves
The Cardinals have completed a handful of moves this week to deal with injuries. The Cardinals have re-signed Chris Johnson and added DJ Foster from the Patriots practice squad. Arizona added much-needed depth after David Johnson was placed on injured reserve. I wrote earlier this week about how the Cardinals have a group of guys that each has similar skill sets to David Johnson, but it takes all four guys to do what DJ does on his own. I would look for a lot of rotation at the running back spot this week, trying to figure out what works.
The Cardinals have ruled out Mike Iupati this week and recently signed veteran Alex Boone will fill in for him at left guard. Iupati did not look like himself last week and had two big penalties that cost Arizona big time. I have always been a fan of Boone and his tough-nosed approach to the game; I am excited to see what he can do.
Finally, the last move to the roster I will mention is the re-signing of Jim Dray. The tight end comes back to Arizona and will most likely impact the run game. Dray was always a block first style tight end, and I assume that hasn’t changed with age. Ifeanyi Momah will also get some action as well since Gresham and Niklas are both ailing.
Arizona Offensive Breakdown
Now that we have covered the moves, the analysis. Offensive line play across the whole league has been terrible. The Cardinals have made countless transactions trying to find the best five linemen that they can, but they still struggle. It is not like the Seahawks who have neglected the position on purpose to bolster other areas; the Cardinals just can’t stay healthy. John Wetzel is not good at tackle. He has done an admirable job playing guard in the past, but on the outside, he struggles. He was beaten badly on a sack of Palmer where the defender reached out and ripped Wetzel’s hands down and got a straight line rush to the QB. On the pass to DJ that he was hurt, Wetzel got beat again to the inside, I show it in the video below. He must protect better for the Cardinals to avoid getting embarrassed again.
Wetzel beaten badly. Needs to improve in pass protection. pic.twitter.com/vW5bOga5JC
— Lenny Letcher (@LennyLetcher) September 16, 2017
Jabaal Sheard is no slouch rushing off the edge. The former Patriot is a good football player and will give the Cardinals offensive line trouble. They must communicate well and always know where he is to be successful. T.J. Green has made a move to corner from safety to and has all the athleticism to play the position. He had a rough game last week giving up a long touchdown to Cooper Kupp. I expect the Cardinals to pick on the young player this week.
This is the fourth consecutive week that the Cardinals are on the road, but I expect them to clean up their act. The Cardinals have enough firepower to put up 35 on this team, but they won’t. I expect them to score 24 against this Colts team.
Cardinals Defensive Breakdown
The Colts offense was thrashed by the Rams last week. They moved the ball well on a couple of possessions but were stalled in the red zone twice. The Cardinals will most likely shadow TY Hilton with Patrick Peterson and take away the Colts best weapon. That leaves tight end Jack Doyle and running backs Frank Gore and Marlon Mack to contend with. I like those matchups with Robert Nkemdiche coming back from injury, and Tyrann Mathieu has the athleticism to stay with Doyle.
The Cardinals pass rush should shred this beat up Indy offensive line, but I have thought that before. Arizona can’t afford to have Golden and Jones disappear for stretches of the game like they have done in the past. The Cardinals defense will have to carry this team if they want to succeed while David Johnson is on the mend. Rodney Gunter and Corey Peters will need to play well to control the run and put Indy into bad third and long situations to force mistakes. I don’t see them putting up more than two touchdowns on the board.
The Cardinals are in a bad spot if they lose this game. I don’t think that they need to blow out the Colts to prove they are a contender still, but they must win. The possibilities of where this season can end up shrinks dramatically with a loss to this beat up Colts team. The Cards should win this 24-17, and I hope they make it look easy.