Another week and another huge game for the Arizona Cardinals. Despite their extremely slim playoff hopes, they have to prove that they are not as bad as their record shows. Bill Parcels famously quoted “You are what your record says you are,” and that is right to an extent. Arizona has missed two game-winning field goals and had a glitch in the replay system cost them a turnover for a touchdown in a ten-point loss to Carolina. That is the beauty and brutality of football. Any given Sunday, the ball can bounce your way or not.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Redskins: Three Matchups to Watch
DeSean Jackson has gotten the best of Patrick Peterson in the past. Still, those matchups were before Peterson had his diabetes symptoms under control. It will be interesting to see if Peterson travels with Jackson or if he stays on one side of the field as he has much more often this season. Peterson will need to have a big game if the Cardinals have any chance at winning.
Ulrick John vs. Ryan Kerrigan
If you are asking yourself who is Ulrick John, you are not alone. Many Cardinals fans were introduced to him last week for the first time when he started at right tackle. With the injury to pro bowl tackle Jared Veldheer, Arizona has shuffled its offensive line dramatically. DJ Humphries has moved from right to left tackle and former replacement tackle John Wetzel has moved to right guard. This leaves John, who was on the Miami Dolphins practice squad a little over a month ago at right tackle. He played well in the first quarter of last week’s game but ended with a Pro Football Focus grade of 29, which was the worst of any player in the game. Blocking Kerrigan will be a tough task for this first-year tackle, but a chance to prove he is an NFL caliber player.
Vernon Davis has had a resurgent year with the Washington Redskins. Matching up against him will be Tony Jefferson for the Cardinals. Jefferson is playing the best football of his career and arguably the most consistent player on the Cardinals defense. He is on a one-year deal and has been working hard to earn a big payday this offseason. The Cardinals have historically not played well against receiving tight ends, but this year has been different. Arizona has given up zero touchdowns and only 24 yards per game to tight ends this year. This is a matchup that the Cardinals must win this week.
The Cardinals had a players-only meeting this week. We will see if that will make a difference in their play at home in front of their fans. Arizona has not connected on any of the big plays that they made in the first three years of Bruce Arians tenure with the team. 2016 is the first year under his charge that they will not reach the ten-win mark and fans are getting restless. Arians is not on the hot seat, but it will go a long way in easing the angst around town if the Cardinals can finish well.