Cardinals: Schedule Sets Up Nicely

Despite a record of just 3-5, the Cardinals are in position to make a run at a third straight division crown.

The NFC West is dreadful. The four division teams know it, and no one is complaining, especially the Cardinals, the two-time defending champions.

At 3-5, the Cardinals are only a game out of first. They are positioned perfectly to make a run, at least in terms of the schedule.

Starting Sunday against Seattle, four of the next five games are home. Three are against division teams. If the Cardinals are to make a move in the division, now is the time.

"Honestly, I'm worried about Seattle," receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "That's the only team; they're next on our list. They beat us a couple of weeks ago, and we owe them."

As disappointing as last week's loss to the Vikings was, the Cardinals might have hit upon a formula for offensive competence.

The offense scored just 10 points, but quarterback Derek Anderson was efficient and didn't commit a turnover.

That is vital for a team that entered last week's game ranked 31st in turnover margin (minus-9).

The Cardinals seem to be finding their footing on offense. The production is not going to be as impressive this season as it has been the past three years, but competence is a realistic goal.

The special teams play has been excellent, and the Cardinals have been opportunistic in other areas. They have eight returns for touchdowns, including four fumbles, which ties a league record.

What they have had trouble doing is putting a complete game together. Last week, they played well for 56 minutes and then collapsed at the end of the game, especially on defense.

The team entered the season knowing the offense was going to struggle at times. Coaches hoped the defense would come through early.

But opponents have won via fourth-quarter comebacks the past two weeks, and no one seems sure of what's making the defense crumble late.


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