The ebbs and flows of the Arizona Cardinals' performance this season are enough to make a cast-iron sailor nauseous. Unfortunately, there's been more ebb than flow.
Looking forward to Week 12, when the Cardinals travel to St. Louis to play the Rams, you can expect to see some trends continue we've borne witness to recently. Some trends we want to see, and others we'd rather have go bye-bye, like the Cardinals' chances of making the playoffs this year.
Even with the Cards out of the playoff hunt, there are some aspects of the game, both mentally and physically, they'll continue to build upon. And then there are some parts of Arizona's game that need to be left on the sideline, with John Skelton.
Bang it below to follow the trends.
No matter whom the Arizona coaches put under center, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will produce each week. That trend for the Cards hasn't slowed since he's come into the league.
In Week 11 against the 49ers, Fitzgerald caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Richard Bartel. Fitz kept the ball and gave it to Bartel.
This week, look for that trend to carry over into St. Louis. Fitzgerald is likely to put up another 100-yard performance and see the end zone at least once, despite who's chuckin' the ball around the field for the Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals face a real problem this week in St. Louis. The Rams are the worst team in the league against the run, giving up 148.1 yards per game, but they rank ninth against the pass.
With running back Beanie Wells nursing a significant knee injury, he's likely not to add much on the ground. That means the true offensive threat will have to come from the quarterback.
The trend for Arizona all season has been poor quarterback play, whether it be newly acquired Kevin Kolb, John Skelton or Richard Bartel. None of them has shown any fire to get excited about.
As of Tuesday night, head coach Ken Whisenhunt still doesn't know who will be starting at quarterback. He thinks it may be Kolb but is in "wait and see" mode based on Kolb's injuries.
"For that position and what he has to be able to do, to plant and be able to move and do all those things, you've certainly got to be well or be healed enough to where he can do those things," Whisenhunt said.
"When we get out there Wednesday, we'll see what he can do."
Well, I've seen what Kolb can do, and it ain't much. Then again, Skelton hasn't exactly sliced up defenses yet either. Between the two, I'd still rather have Skelton, but that's like deciding which to eat first, the liver or the onions.
The quarterback play in Arizona is trending downwards; look for that to continue in Week 12.
It's the hits like the one pictured that make Beanie Wells and his hurt knee ineffective. Since Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens, when Wells hurt his knee, he's been rendered useless.
Sure, he takes the field and slams into a defender at the line of scrimmage, but doesn't offer much else.
Prior to Week 8, Wells was a dominant force at running back. He was hitting the edge and knocking people's helmets off, for crying out loud. Now he's getting tripped up by blades of grass that haven't been cut down low enough.
Since Week 8, Wells has carried the rock 41 times for 115 yards and no touchdowns. For those of you playing the home version, that's 2.8 yards per carry.
Even though Wells is running against the Rams and their dead-last run defense, look for him to struggle to move the ball on the ground. In Week 9 against the Rams he rushed for 20 yards on 10 carries. While he should exceed those numbers, it won't be by much.
Since a photo is worth 1,000 words, I can stop typing right now.
Like two trains on the same track, the offensive linemen and the quarterback aren't supposed to face each other. Both result in a train wreck—exactly what Arizona's offensive line has been all season.
It's fitting that it's called an offensive line because it's been offensive the way it's failed to protect the quarterback.
There's no reason whatsoever to think Levi Brown and the rest of the Matadors will start protecting the quarterback in Week 12.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has watched the passing corps on his team exit stage left. No other wide receiver has played well enough this season to draw the double and triple coverage away from Fitz.
As Fitzgerald said himself, “I had some talented guys around me.”
It's a little surprise every time one of the other pass-catchers for the Cardinals actually catches a pass. Arizona depleted its wide receiving corps, and the passing game has suffered significantly.
That trend will continue, not only in Week 12, but for the remainder of the season.
The Arizona Cardinals' front seven on defense has been playing with intensity all season. It was the secondary that needed to step its game up.
It's finally starting to happen.
"They're playing fast, they're being physical, and they're getting confidence that when they do it right, they can be a pretty good unit," Whisenhunt said.
The game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11 should've been a much worse blowout. The Cardinal defense kept it close with two blocked field goals and an interception by linebacker Daryl Washington.
Arizona's defense has been improving all season and will continue to do so. It's loaded with young players in the secondary, linebackers and defensive line. Look for even more improvement in Week 12 against the Rams.
Arizona Cardinals nose tackle Dan Williams fractured his left arm against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11. He's been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Williams' injury could start a new trend with the Cardinals.
Williams was the 26th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. At 6'2" and 330 pounds, Williams fit the mold of a brick house designed to stop the run. He filled the mold well and made the front seven a formidable force.
Williams' replacement, sixth-round rookie David Carter (6'5", 297 pounds), will be a significant downgrade in size. The Arizona defensive line will likely get pushed around down the stretch. Running on the Cardinals just got easier.
In Week 12, Rams running back Steven Jackson may dominate the field more so than he already does. Inside linebackers Daryl Washington and Paris Lenon will have to become experts at getting off blocks and manning the middle even more tenaciously than they have thus far.
While Arizona's front seven have been the central force behind the Cardinal defense, with Williams' loss, they suffered a major crack in the hull. The question is whether the linebackers can steady the ship despite the loss; Jackson provides a decisive test in Week 12.
Teams in the Arizona Cardinals' position—starting the season 1-6—are susceptible to packing it in mentally and physically and thinking ahead to next year. Blowouts become commonplace, and effort is minimal.
The Arizona Cardinals, despite having suffered through a disappointing season with several late-game losses, have played with heart each game. They have come up short in just about every area of the game, but tip your hat to their determination to win.
No matter the shortcomings of this team, no one can point to a game where the Cardinals backed down, rolled over and surrendered a loss willingly. They fought, effectively or not, each game, each quarter. Arizona's no-surrender attitude is to be commended.
Their pride as a team is evident and will be a trend that will continue in Week 12 and beyond.
Win or lose, the Arizona Cardinals cheerleaders are there for the team. Every. Single. Week.
Here's to them.