High-flying Cardinals are hot!

Fitzbeatsquare

 

 

 

 

 

 

GLENDALE, AZ — With just five weeks left in the NFL regular season, several teams have much to be thankful for. This has been one of those seasons where unpredictability has been the signature after 11 weeks. Houston, Washington, Atlanta and Minnesota, all playoff teams in 2012, have all struggled mightily.

Playoffs? Forget about it for those teams. All of them won 10 or more games last year, but not one of them will win even nine games this year.

After 11 weeks, the picture is getting clearer. Teams with seven or more wins have a 70 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. Those teams are Seattle (10-1), New Orleans (9-2), Denver (9-2), Kansas City (9-2), Carolina (8-3), San Francisco (7-

Fitzgerald Jr. doing what he does best Photo by Bruce Yeung
Fitzgerald Jr. doing what
he does best
Photo by Bruce Yeung

4), Indianapolis (7-4), Arizona (7-4), and Cincinnati (7-4). By definition, these teams have the inside track.

Arizona has been one of the league’s top defensive teams for years. First-year Head Coach Bruce Arians, the NFL’s 2012 Coach of the Year, has lit a fire in the desert. His Cardinals have won four in a row after pounding the Colts Sunday 40-11.

The Colts have beaten Seattle, Denver and San Francisco. Quarterback Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes Sunday, both to Larry Fitzgerald Jr.

Palmer has raised his game to a near-Pro Bowl level the last three weeks. In fact, in the last two games he has thrown for 419 and 314 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions.

The Cardinals are in the rugged NFC West, where Seattle and San Francisco both were playoff teams in 2012 and both are in position again. Top to bottom, the NFC West is by far the strongest division in football. Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis are a combined 29-15.

The Cardinals are 7-1 outside of the NFC West but are 0-3 in the division. With five games left and three games vs. St. Louis, Seattle and San Francisco, two of those at home, the Cardinals may build a nest in the playoffs.

Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Sunday grabbed five passes for 52 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards. Larry Jr. in this, his10th NFL season, is 30 years and 85 days old. The great Randy Moss reached 11,000 at age 30 years, 222 days.

Fitzgerald and teammate Michael Floyd have formed a dynamic all-Minnesota receiver duo for Palmer. Floyd has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games of 193 and 104 yards and is making his mark by beating defenses and making them pay for single coverage. Last year the Cardinals were just 5-11, but Arians has this team on the come.

Remember where you heard it first — watch out for the Arizona Cardinals.

 

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.