Arizona Cardinals: 4 Reasons the Cards Are Winning the NFC West

Hector DiazAnalyst IOctober 18, 2012

Arizona Cardinals: 4 Reasons the Cards Are Winning the NFC West

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    Despite losing their last two games, the Arizona Cardinals are atop the NFC West. 

    The division boasts arguably the most competitive group of teams of any division. The San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks Arizona Cardinals all share first place in the division with a 4-2 record. The outlier in the division, the St. Louis Rams, are not that far behind with their 3-3 record.

    If the trend continues, all four teams will be in the running to be called the NFC West’s best team. Having said that, Arizona is doing all it can to stay at the very top.

    There have already been a slew of overtime games, as well as some surprisingly dominant performances by Arizona this season which makes their 4-2 record that much more impressive.  

    Much of the success is credited to the defense, but there are a few individuals on offense that change the course of the game as well. 

    Here are four reasons why the Arizona Cardinals are winning the NFC West. 

Larry Fitzgerald

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    Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald earned his 10,000th receiving yard last week against the Buffalo Bills, which makes him the second youngest receiver to accomplish this stellar achievement. The only receiver younger than Fitzgerald to accomplish this feat has been Randy Moss

    That is great company to be in, especially considering how many ineffective quarterbacks Fitzgerald has had throughout the years. The only great quarterback Fitzgerald has had the luxury of playing with is Kurt Warner

    Despite not having a reliable passer, he is still able to take over a game when he needs to. He is still on pace to match last year's numbers of 1,114 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. 

    No matter who is throwing to Fitzgerald, you bet he will make the most of his receptions. 

    In fact, quarterback Kevin Kolb's injury may benefit the star wide receiver's production. According to ESPN.com, Fitzgerald gains more yards after the catch with Skelton as quarterback.

    Look for Larry Fitzgerald to only improve throughout the season to keep the Cards in contention.  

Andre Roberts

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    Larry Fitzgerald produces despite the subpar quarterback play; wide receiver Andre Roberts produces because of it. 

    At the start of the season, rookie Michael Floyd seemed like a guarantee to take Roberts’ role as the team’s second receiver. However Roberts’ recent production is eroding any talks of that happening. 

    Roberts has already scored four touchdowns in 2012 which matches his career total prior to the season.

    Of course, this is a result of Kevin Kolb’s inability to throw it to Larry Fitzgerald at times. Roberts is demonstrating that he is a capable second receiver and is coming into his own, which makes him a reliable, if not exciting, second option. 

Patrick Peterson

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    While Patrick Peterson is making a name for himself by his impressive punt returns, his defense has greatly improved over the course of the year. 

    Peterson already has three interceptions in the first six games which is a drastic improvement from last year's total of two.  According to ESPN.com, he is on pace to pick off eight passes this season if he continues to play at this level. 

    The second-year cornerback's combination of defensive playmaking and return skill can surely be credited for Arizona's impressive records six games into the season. Peterson currently ranks third in interceptions and eighth in punt return average. 

    Things are looking up for the young cornerback. 

John Skelton

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    Whether he is playing or not, the Cardinals’ offense ultimately relies on quarterback John Skelton. One has to remember that he was named the starting quarterback by coach Ken Whisenhunt at the end of the preseason. 

    Skelton managed to play only one game when he went down with an ankle jury against the division rival Seattle Seahawks. It was then that backup Kevin Kolb stepped up to score the game-winning touchdown to receiver Andre Roberts. 

    Kolb tends to collapse under pressure. Coming off the bench gave him the opportunity to play without having the burden of managing an entire game. 

    And despite Kevin Kolb’s recent success, the Cardinals have accumulated more wins with Skelton at the helm. 

    Last season, John Skelton won five of his seven starts in 2011 which shows that no matter who is leading the offense, the Cardinals can always stay within reach of winning.