Tale Of The Tape: Arizona Cardinals At Jacksonville Jaguars
- QuarterbackDon’t look now, but the Arizona Cardinals are on the verge of joining the wild-card race in the NFC. Some of the credit must go to quarterback Carson Palmer, who still makes his share of mistakes but makes up for that with his competitiveness and ability to complete key passes at big moments. Palmer has completed 61.9 percent of his passes and he has been quite dangerous in the fourth quarter.The Jaguars finally got in the victory column when they edged the Tennessee Titans in Week 10, and they try to make it two in a row as they come home to face a team that has often struggled on the road. Chad Henne is a low-end starting quarterback with a 3-7 TD-interception ratio. However, he seems comfortable under center and is usually not going to panic.
- OffenseThe Cardinals have not had much of a running attack this season because Rashard Mendenhall simply does not have the attitude to run hard between the tackles. The Cardinals have gotten a lift from Andre Ellington, who averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 11 attempts vs. Houston. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best in the business and Andre Roberts is a fine secondary receiver.The Jaguars have gotten next to nothing from Maurice Jones-Drew this season, and that’s one of the reasons they have been a disaster since he is the Jaguars’ best player. Cecil Shorts continue to play with great effort and he is the team’s leading receiver with 48 receptions for 415 yards. The Jaguars have almost no explosive characteristics to their offense.
- DefenseIf the Cardinals are going to win this road game, their defense must continue to play consistent football. Arizona ranks 13th overall on defense and they are led by inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, who has a team-high 78 tackles and a remarkable 13 passes defended. FS Tyrann Mathieu is a legitimate rookie of the year candidate. Patrick Peterson has three interceptions and 12 passes defensed.The Jaguars have been unable to get off the field much of the season because they rank 28th overall on defense. They have been especially vulnerable on the ground, giving up 153.0 yards per game on the ground. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny leads the team with 88 tackles and he also has nine passes defensed. Outside linebacker Russell Allen is a hard hitter with 40 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
- Special TeamsThe Cardinals have done an excellent job in their punt and kickoff coverage and they have two excellent return men in Peterson and Javier Arenas. Placekicker Jay Feely has a strong leg and he is usually at his best when the game is on the line. He has made 16-of-17 FG attempts this season.The Jaguars have been proficient in keeping opponents from getting loose on kickoffs or punts. However, they rarely threaten to make any big returns. While the Jaguars have had problems on offense and defense, placekicker Josh Scobee has made all 12 of his FG attempts, and is 2-of-2 from 50-plus yards.
The Cardinals are at least in the postseason discussion, but they will be dropped quickly if they can’t beat the Jaguars. It won’t be easy since the Cardinals are just 1-3 on the road, but they must find a way to get this game in the “W” column. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor