The Arizona Cardinals don't have a tough schedule at all but that doesn't mean they can coast through the season. With matchups against teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles, the Cards need to approach each game as a big game.
The Cards should have trouble against the better teams but sometimes a close loss against a good team is a moral win. That doesn't mean Arizona shouldn't look to win the more difficult games, it simply means the team can live with playing tough with a contender and losing a tough one.
When coaches see this, they can pump up the team and inspire them to beat the next good team they play. Read on for the five toughest games for the Arizona Cardinals this season and how the team should approach each game.
This isn't a tough game because the Seattle Seahawks are a good team (they are actually the opposite) but rather since their stadium is one of the loudest in the league. Fans and player alike know just how loud it can get and how is can completely frustrate the opposing team.
When teams have to yell at the top of their lungs just to get call a play, it causes a ton of confusion.
The fans can literally shake the field and caused a minor earthquake during Marshawn Lynch's monster rush against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last year. The fact that the crowd can do this is absolutely unbelievable and a cause for concern for any team that plays them in Seattle.
As for how to approach this game, the only reasonable things to do would be to save your voice for the game and maybe have some plays be shown as numbers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had one of the league's best defenses for a long time now, and their solid offense only makes things even tougher. The Cardinals will be greatly tested against the aggressive pass-rush and ridiculous plays from Troy Polamalu.
The new offensive line and quarterback Kevin Kolb both need to be at top form or else this could get ugly.
It wouldn't surprise me if Ken Whisenhunt tried to run early, in order to open up some passing lanes. The only problem with this is the star-studded defensive front. When James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley and Casey Hampton at your running back, it's tough to run effectively.
The best way to approach this defense is to run the ball effectively and hit short passes with big yards after catch. Obviously this is easier said than done, but since this game is after the bye week, the team will have plenty of time to game-plan for this game
What a two week stretch for the Arizona Cardinals, first the Pittsburgh Steelers and then the Baltimore Ravens. The Cards need to keep focus because the Ravens bring an equally solid defense as the Steelers and can easily change the game with a forced fumble or interception.
The Ravens have a smash-mouth defense and Ray Lewis runs the show.
The Cards really need to take care of the ball and have good consistent offensive line play. If Ray Lewis senses the line not holding, don't be surprised if he brings constant pressure to force Arizona to beat them through the air. That plays right in to the Raven's strengths and will, most likely, lead to a Baltimore win.
The big key here is offensive line play, and there's no way the Cardinals win without the line holding up. This is where new addition Daryn Colledge could be a big player, since he brings physicality to the offensive line.
The Philadelphia Eagles are the NFL's version of the Miami Heat, without the parade, and one of the top teams in the league. The Eagles have a much improved defense and a dynamic offense, usually teams have one or the other, not both. This game could be even more difficult because of that.
The Cardinals are going to be overmatched on both sides of the ball and need a near perfect game to beat the Eagles. The linebackers are the Eagle's main weakness so I would imagine quick, short passes will be used a lot by the Cards.
If they effectively utilize the short game, deeper passes will open up and maybe a bomb or two.
On defense, the Cardinals need to keep everything in front of them since the Eagles have a bunch of speed at wide receiver, running back, and quarterback. It's much easier said than done, and I expect the Cards to struggle.
The Dallas Cowboys have the talent to win a lot of games this season but are incredibly inconsistent. Just take yesterday's game against the New York Jets when Tony Romo hand wrapped the victory for the Jets.
The Cowboys lose a ton of close games, and it doesn't help when most of them are on the starting quarterback.
Regardless of past miscues, the Cardinals still need to pay attention to the Cowboys because the Boys can still play. Dallas has plenty of options on offense and Jason Garrett should be aggressive in his play calling.
The Cardinals really need to effectively pressure Tony Romo, in order to force him to make rushed throws and cause turnovers.
Look for Ken Whisenhunt to try more deep throws against an inconsistent Dallas secondary. Larry Fitzgerald and Kevin Kolb will have plenty of time to make big plays and should convert on a couple.
The Cards have a good chance to overpower the Cowboys line and send a statement to the NFC West with a solid performance.