In the NFL, teams have to deal with realities of their current situations -- good, bad or ugly -- and it’s how they respond to those realities that determine how successful they will be that season.
Some teams have major personnel flaws (Eagles), injury issues (Cowboys) or complex internal struggles due to things like, oh, I don’t know, star players holding out, moms posting Facebook messages, and unhappy tight ends. (Yeah, you, Seahawks.)
The Cardinals have their own situation they have to make sure they navigate properly the coming weeks -- and let’s face it, it’s a very desirable problem to have.
They are really good.
Their 48-23 win over the Bears was the biggest margin of victory they have had on the road in 35 years. Yeah, the Bears are lousy, but they played the Packers tough the week before and they will probably find a way to win 7 or 8 games this season.
During Sunday's 10 p.m. newscast on ABC15, we debated this question: Are the Cardinals the best team in the NFC right now? I think the answer is probably. If you base it solely on how impressive they have been in their two wins, it’s an emphatic yes.
Without a doubt, the Cardinals are the most explosive team in the NFL right now. Blink, or leave the room for a minute or two, and you could come back to see two more touchdowns have appeared on the scoreboard.
The Cardinals have scored touchdowns four different ways in two games, and on Sunday, the offense, defense and special teams all scored. Eight different players have TDs in these two games, and Larry Fitzgerald already has already made three visits to the end zone himself.
So, as we have one-eighth of the NFL schedule behind us, I present to you:
The top five secrets to continued success for the Cardinals.
1. Don’t become too reliant on big plays.
Scoring has come fast, furious and at times, rather easy. The Cards have explosive weapons, but there will come a time when they have to grind out 15-play drives. It’s not going to be as simple as they have made it look so far, so they need to stay cool when they
2. Try not to believe everything you read.
The Cardinals are going to become America’s team pretty soon. It’s because of the appeal of Bruce Arians, the exciting brand of ball they play, and the fact they have great players on their team. The season is only 12.5 percent over, so it’s important to not believe all the wonderful things that will be said about them. They need to develop (or keep) a little chip on their shoulder. If they need a reminder, they only need to pull out the Sports Illustrated NFL preview issue that predicted the Cardinals would finish last in the NFC West.
3. Avoid major injuries.
This goes without saying. There is a certain player on the team that is irreplaceable. We won’t name names, but he’s the guy who’s 15-2 in his last 17 starts at the most important position on the field. The Cards can handle him missing a game or two from something minor or petty, but keeping him health is oh-so important.
4. Don’t get derailed by one loss.
The Cardinals will not go undefeated. They will lose a game, and the great teams learn from their mistakes and immediately regroup and put it behind them.
5. Win 2-3 tough games on the road.
The Cardinals have to play at Pittsburgh, at Seattle and at Philadelphia. I think it is absolutely imperative that they win at least two of those games, because if they do, and they take care of business at home, they will be in position to have home field advantage in the playoffs. Even if they don’t have home-field advantage, if they can win two of these three tough road games during the regular season, they will know they can go into Green Bay or Seattle during the playoffs and walk out with a win.
So, there you go. That is the roadmap to ending the season in the stadium of the team coming to Glendale this weekend: at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California.
If you think it’s a little too early to talk about this kind of thing, you’re right! Of course it is. But it sure beats talking about who the Cardinals should be considering in the draft, which is only eight months away.
It wouldn’t be a Monday in an NFL city if we weren’t overreacting one way or another. Let’s be grateful it’s because of these reasons.