The 4-2 Arizona Cardinals appear to have a high-powered offense led by a talented (if aging) quarterback in Carson Palmer, a Hall-of-Fame receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, a rising star in John Brown, and one of the most innovative coaches in the game in Bruce Arians. Look closer and you see a team that has beaten up on a string of weaklings: the Saints, Bears, Niners and Lions are a combined 7-17, and lost to the Cards by a combined score of 168-66.
It’s been a season of frustration, meanwhile, for the 1-5 Baltimore Ravens, who are arguably the best 1-5 team in the NFL. Hooray? They’ve only been outscored by 19 points over the course of the season, never losing by more than 6 points. But, as the great Bill Parcells once said, you are what your record says you are, and the Ravens have earned plenty of those losses, either with a pick-six or penalties or failures on D.
The Ravens have long be known as a defensive team, having produced such legendary players as Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. But that reputation is out the window this season, as the team’s D is in the bottom third of the league in points, yards, yards per play, takeaways, passing yards, passing TDs… add it all up and the Ravens are allowing teams to score on 44% of possessions.
What happens when you take a team like the Cardinals with a balanced attack that scores the second-most points per game in the league, and pit it against one of the NFL’s worst defenses? Well, it could get ugly.
On the flip side, the Ravens offense, led by QB Joe Flacco, is probably right at the bottom, or just a bit outside, of the top 10 in the league, ranking 8th in points, 7th in yards, 11th in first downs, 9th in scoring drive percentage. They don’t do anything particularly well, they’re not the worst at anything – you might say the Ravens' offense has played well enough to lose.
The Cardinals’ defense overall is very middle-of-the-pack, but they do feature one of the best secondaries in the NFL, with a league-leading 11 interceptions. And who would you guess has thrown the fifth-most interceptions this season? It’s Joe Flacco!
All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com