After an absolutely gutting loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, it feels like adding insult to injury to take a look at the successes around the rest of the division this week. Let’s at least take solace in the fact that the 49ers didn’t win. Now, the not-so-pleasant content for this week’s column:
Cardinals rout Browns 37-14, prove status as legit contenders
Going into Cleveland and facing a team with a great running game was sure to be a huge challenge for the Cardinals defense, and even when it was announced that Nick Chubb would be out, I still expected the Browns to be able to control the game on the ground.
This strategy went out the window for Cleveland when Arizona’s ferocious offensive attack jumped out to a 20-0 lead, and putting Baker Mayfield in a position where he’d have to throw gave the Cardinals a huge advantage defensively. The Cardinals pass-rushers were able to pin their ears back and chase down Baker, coming down with an impressive five sacks against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Perhaps the most shocking development for the Cardinals this season has been the effectiveness of their veteran signings from the offseason. In what felt like a typical example of players retreating to the desert to wrap up their careers in mediocrity, both A.J. Green and J.J. Watt signed with the Cardinals this offseason, yet defying my expectations, they’ve both had an impact. Green had 79 yards and a touchdown in this game, and Watt had a sack.
This wasn’t the first time the Cardinals had blown out a quality road opponent (see their 38-20 win over the Rams in Week 4), and there is no doubt that this offense is elite. I am looking forward less and less to playing these guys twice in the last seven weeks, especially since the ‘Hawks now have four losses.
Rams take care of business against the Giants
The Rams did exactly what was expected from them against the Giants this year, so I won’t spend too much time talking about this game. Cooper Kupp played out of his mind once more, picking up nine catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns, and Stafford had another four-TD game. An early injury to Giants star Kadarius Toney helped the Rams in pass defense, as they looked questionable early, and the defense ultimately came up with four turnovers to put the game well out of reach. In fact, the lead was so big, that our favorite backup John Wolford got a chance to play (he went 0/2 with an interception).
In a division that was looking like at least a three-horse race at the start of the season, it’s essentially down to Arizona and the Rams for the division title just six weeks into the season. And given what they showed last time against the Rams, I have to say Arizona has the edge.
Arizona Cardinals - 6-0 (2-0 DIV)
Los Angeles Rams - 5-1 (1-1 DIV)
San Francisco 49ers - 2-3 (0-2 DIV)
Seattle Seahawks - 2-4 (1-1 DIV)
Los Angeles Rams vs Detroit Lions
Seattle Seahawks vs New Orleans Saints
Arizona Cardinals vs Houston Texans
San Francisco 49ers vs Indianapolis Colts