Don’t you just love a good sports-related cliche? I know I certainly do not, but there are times when nothing but a cliche will do to describe a particular circumstance. Take the upcoming game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers for example. The contest could be considered a “must win” for both of them. Though I cannot imagine a situation in which an NFL team would tell their roster “It’s OK fellas! Take it easy. This isn’t a must win”, a victory for either team would push them back into some semblance of respectability within their conferences.
Victory would bring the Panthers to the .500 mark and the Cardinals above said mark for the first time in weeks. Are you ready for another cliche? Sure you aren’t, but you’re gonna get one anyway. Underachieving! As in, each of the aforementioned teams is underachieving on offense with respect to their rosters–each of which has a plethora of offensive weapons. Surprisingly, scoring had been an issue for coach Ron Rivera‘s Panthers. The team has lost by a total margin of six points in its two defeats–a margin that would be much larger if it weren’t for their overachieving 12th ranked defense. The loss to the undefeated Seattle Seahawks was somewhat forgivable seeing as though they’re clearly among the league’s best defenses, but the Buffalo Bills loss was a head-scratcher because the Bills’ defense isn’t even ranked among the league’s top 20.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have all the offensive weapons of a cold war dictatorship. They have a catch anything wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, a hard-running, Super Bowl-winning veteran in RB Rashard Mendenhall and a quarterback in Carson Palmer who makes all the throws. The fact that six of those throws were to people on the other team is indicative of one of their main problems. Another problem is their defense is about as porous as Sponge Bob’s face. The fact that they come into Sunday’s game with a 2-2 record is a miracle in itself. Prior to the Panthers’ 38-0 victory over the Giants I had been awaiting an offensive explosion from Cam Newton, Steve Smith and company. The Cardinals’ defense will certainly get a boost with the return of Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Washington from a four-game suspension, but they’re still pretty beat up on the “hit ’em” side of the ball. Carolina in a romp.
Ricardo Hazell is a freelance basketball and football writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.