They were the last team to lose a game this season. But the Arizona Cardinals have had their issues as of late, bringing back memories of 2020.
In his first year in the desert, former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury took over a Cardinals’ team that won only three games in 2018. He guided the Arizona Cardinals to a 5-10-1 finish.
A season ago, the club won six of its first nine games – including a rousing come-from-behind win over the Buffalo Bills via a last-second Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins scoring pass. But the Cards dropped five of their last seven outings and finished 8-8, and out of the playoffs.
This season, the team appeared to take another step forward. A 7-0 start made them the last undefeated club in the league. And it was the best start by the franchise since the St. Louis Cardinals won their first seven games back in 1974.
Cardinals must avoid another late-season collapse
But things have gone awry as of late. There have been just three victories over Arizona’s last seven outings. A prime time loss to the Packers at home was followed two weeks later by an inexplicable 34-10 setback to the visiting Carolina Panthers. And over the span of seven days, Kingsbury’s team lost at home to the rival Rams on a Monday night and were very flat in a 30-12 setback at Detroit last Sunday.
So is it déjà vu all over again? Despite a 10-4 record, the Cardinals haven’t clinched anything yet. They and the Rams own identical win-loss record and Arizona’s edge at the moment is a better divisional record.
The team has managed to win and lose without quarterback Kyler Murray. Colt McCoy was 2-1 in his absence this year. The club has also played without star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins at times. Entering Week 16, the team ranked in the NFL’s Top 10 in both total yards gained and fewest yards allowed. Markus Golden and Chandler Jones lead a potent pass rush.
Of course, a little closer look shows that Vance Joseph’s unit has been mediocre against the run this year (tied with Jacksonville for 17th in the NFL). It’s also worth noting that the Cardinals have a solid 24 takeaways in 14 games this year. But the team has forced 21 turnovers in 10 wins and taken away the ball just three times in four setbacks.
Now Kingsbury’s team takes on running back Jonathan Taylor and the explosive Indianapolis Colts on Christmas night. That’s followed by a trip to Dallas before closing the year at home vs. the Seahawks. Is this team on its way to a disturbing finish after such a promising start?