Cardinals at a Crossroad

Following a 2-0 start, the Cardinals have now dropped two straight decisions and are back to .500 on the season. With their recent East Coast road trip behind them, Arizona returns to the desert this week for the first of two consecutive home outings. Brad Wilbricht examines the current state of the Cardinals and explains the importance of the next two games.

Despite a forgettable past two weeks, the Cardinals are still on top of the NFC West standings and remain a contender to win the division. However, with upcoming games against the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys, the Cardinals must right the ship quickly in order to avoid heading into the bye week with a losing record.

The Cardinals next two games are vital and losing both would seriously jeopardize a successful season in Arizona. Once with hopes of their first winning season and playoff berth since 1998, the Cardinals are now staring at a possible 2-5 start and virtually no shot at making the playoffs.

Following games against Buffalo and Dallas, Arizona has a bye week before traveling to face the Carolina Panthers. The trip to Carolina will mark the team's third East Coast road trip in the previous five games. In addition, Arizona has future road games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, making a grand total of five cross-country trips this season.

All of the Cardinals non-divisional road games take place a minimum of 2,000 miles away from University of Phoenix Stadium. Meanwhile, only three East Coast teams make the trip to the desert. The Miami Dolphins traveled west in Week 1, while the Bills and the New York Giants round out the Cardinals' East Coast opponents.

QB Kurt Warner

With Dallas looking like the class of the NFC, the Cardinals will be hard pressed to knock off the Cowboys even on their own turf. Given the recent struggles of OT Levi Brown and QB Kurt Warner's ball security issues, Dallas' tremendous edge pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis are salivating at the chance to line-up against Arizona's offensive line.

That being said, this week's contest against Buffalo nearly falls into the "must win" category. The Bills are 4-0 and are one of the early season surprises in the NFL. With an outstanding young backfield consisting of QB Trent Edwards and RB Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo is averaging 27 points per game on offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bills have been even better and are currently ranked seventh in the league allowing only 281 yards per game. Furthermore, Buffalo is limiting its opponents to 169 yards per game through the air. With WR Anquan Boldin doubtful following last week's dangerous hit against the New York Jets, the Cardinals' air assault could be less potent than usual.

Arizona's coaching staff and players must prepare with an extreme sense of urgency this week against Buffalo. Despite having to play without several key performers, look for the Cardinals to play inspired football with the fate of their season largely in the balance.

Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at

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