After rattling off 7 straight victories at the beginning of the season, the Arizona Cardinals secured the first wild card spot. This was a consensus number one overall team for multiple weeks, that couldn’t even win their division. While this was partly due to injuries to players like Deandre Hopkins and star QB Kyler Murray, the 30-12 loss they suffered at the hands of the Detroit Lions should not be happening. These things don’t happen to super bowl contenders and it just raises the question of whether or not this team peaked too early. 

Before getting pessimistic about the Cardinals tough end to the season because they started hot. Murray was arguably the best QB during that stretch and while some people might have forgotten, Hopkins is still an elite receiver. The defense was solid, middle of the pack and was good enough to make stops when they needed to. It was the offense though that had powered the Cardinals to the 7-game win streak and what made them one of the most dangerous teams in the league. The ever elusive Murray and one of the best wide receiver corps in the game, complemented by a running game led by James Conner made this team a force. With Kliff Kingsbury, an offensive mastermind, calling the shots the Cardinals were able to run the ball effectively and make big plays through the air at will. This team was going down the path of the Chiefs, dominant offense and mediocre defense. 

 The Cardinals didn’t have a horrific defense like that of the beginning season Chiefs, but instead their problem is the offense. They haven’t been “clicking” and with pieces still out of the roster it might be hard to get to the peak performance they reached earlier in the season. This also puts extra strain on the defense, and they are forced to elevate their level of play. They gave up 30+ points to both the Panthers and the Lions, teams in the bottom ten of the league, which shows that the Cardinals defense needs to be backed up by the offense. Once the offense starts slowing down, the defense is on the field for longer and this leads to a more fatigued defense giving up more points. This disaster scenario has been on full display during the Cardinals 3 game losing streak, and if they can’t get their swag back on offense the rest of the team is doomed. 

The good news is that after a win against the Dallas Cowboys, who they might play in the playoffs, Kyler seems to be getting back on track. A 250 yard, 2 touchdown performance was a solid performance. The Cowboys might not have been running at full steam, Ezekiel Elliot only had 16 yards, but the Cardinals were able to play just well enough on defense. These are the kind of performances the Cardinals need to build on, and taking this momentum into the playoffs will be vital. 

Top Image: Chris Coduto/Getty Images

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