Three games ago, the Arizona Cardinals appeared on a primetime Thursday night contest, coming in at a perfect 4-0, and I declared that in fact, yes, they were just lucky. Since then, the Cardinals have dropped three games to the murderer’s row of the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Minnesota Vikings, including two close contests.
Those struggles have coincided with many of the things that were brewing under the surface, but masked by the defense making big plays. That includes offensive line play, a bad running game that has injuries, and another injury to Kevin Kolb. John Skelton was the patron saint of close wins, but that has gone away. What is left is a quarterback who continues to throw interceptions. Honestly, while the results have switched, the Cardinals probably played as well defensively in the last loss as at any other time. LaRod Stephens-Howling had a big game against the suddenly vulnerable Vikings rush defense, and Andre Roberts stepped up and looks to take advantage of teams overplaying Larry Fitzgerald.
The 49ers, meanwhile, come in off a hard fought ugly win over the Seahawks ten days ago. Before that, it was the Giants loss at home. The offense and Alex Smith really needs to get going again, particularly as it relates to involving Vernon Davis. San Francisco can take a stranglehold on the division with a road win and consecutive wins over the two challengers to open a two game lead. A Cardinals win, likely in a fashion similar to how the Seahawks came close to beating the 49ers, and the division is a lot more interesting.
[photo via US Presswire]