Aug 29, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley (14) prepares to take a snap during the preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 32-24. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos ‘enjoyed’ an early season bye week, one that had many up in arms as the 2014 schedule was released. However, the timing of the bye week came at a pretty good spot for the Broncos as a whole.
With Demaryius Thomas playing through a foot injury, Danny Trevathan close to coming back from a knee injury, and even to other guys like Wes Welker trying to get right after suffering multiple concussions in the last year, the timing of the early bye week has been sort of nice for the Broncos.
Now, back after the early bye, the Broncos have plenty of work to do, and it starts with planning for the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, who have already taken down the first place team in the AFC West this year — the San Diego Chargers.
Excuse me while I take a bath after that statement…
The Broncos are not preparing for your usual Cardinals team. This Arizona Cardinals team has as many Super Bowl appearances as the Broncos in this millennium, realistic aspirations to make this a Super Bowl preview yet this season.
Led by head coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals have won 13 out of their last 19 games including a 10 win season a year ago, one in which they missed the playoffs. The Cardinals have a defense that has suffered a significant number of losses, but one that has been incredibly difficult to move the ball on this season. They have an offense that has won two out of three games this season despite missing starting quarterback Carson Palmer, thanks to the spot play of backup Drew Stanton.
But for the Cardinals, everything starts with coach Arians and the job he’s done. Since he took over for Chuck Pagano in 2012 with the Colts, Arians has done a masterful job in every area he’s touched and has the Cardinals currently atop the NFC West with a 3-0 record, looking down at the likes of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
In case you hadn’t picked up the hint, this isn’t a matchup the Broncos can take lightly. The Broncos have been blessed to have been challenged in their first three games by teams that could very well make the playoffs this season, and did last year. The Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs last year, and because of the strength of the NFC, they might miss out this year yet, but the way they are playing right now, that doesn’t look likely.
In effect, the Broncos are being challenged by a playoff caliber team on a weekly basis so far this season, and so far, the fate of the coin flip in overtime has been the barrier between the Broncos and a potential 3-0 record in that timeframe. The loss to Seattle stings, so Denver should come out against Arizona hungry, but they need to stay disciplined and they need to be aggressive.
We’ll have more on this matchup as the week progresses.