Sep 21, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) warms up before facing the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
There’s been a lot of talk this week about whether or not Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer would play or whether it would be Drew Stanton. This might not be the Carson Palmer that played with the Oakland Raiders, but playing against he or Stanton doesn’t exactly sound like a lose-lose for the Broncos either way.
This is a situation the Broncos can possibly take advantage of either way. If Carson Palmer is not 100 percent, or if Drew Stanton is indeed the guy the Cardinals go with, I think it’s a matchup that favors the Broncos and it’s the most important position on the field.
So far this season, Stanton leads the Cardinals with 411 yards passing and two touchdowns. The Cardinals are 3-0 and look like one of the best teams in the NFL, but they aren’t an offensive juggernaut by any means yet. They have pieces, but they need to show that they’re more than just opportunistic late in games.
Completing just over half of his passes this season, there are some who have exclaimed that the Cardinals’ offense doesn’t miss a beat with Stanton in the game. I think it’s a severe downgrade for them, but you can’t argue the results they’ve gotten at this point. They are 3-0, and it’s not like they’ve played the worst teams in the NFL. They’ve beaten the 3-1 Chargers, the Giants (on the road), and the San Francisco 49ers.
The Broncos have played arguably a much tougher schedule through three games against the Colts, Chiefs, and Seahawks, and the Cardinals next in line are no exception to that toughness. The Broncos are essentially starting off this first quarter of the season with four playoff games against contending teams.
Where I think the Broncos can exploit their matchup against the Cardinals’ quarterbacks is with a weaker offensive line and a shaky situation either way right now with Stanton or Palmer. Palmer is likely not ready to play, and Stanton is certainly not going to blow the Broncos’ defense with what they get to see every single day in practice. The defense should throw a number of different looks Arizona’s way to limit their flow early on in the game. As other teams have done, the Cardinals could try to neutralize the aggressive Denver defense with a lot of quick passes and draws, but the Broncos need to be ready, because Andre Ellington, Michael Floyd, and John Brown are all capable of making explosive plays offensively.
Oh, and there’s this guy named Fitzgerald as well…
The Broncos know they have a favorable matchup here, and they need to exploit it early in this game. It will be a key to this team improving to 3-1 and coming off of the bye with a statement win.