Broncos Must Avoid Cardinal Sin; Thou Shalt Not Overlook Arizona

The Denver Broncos, armed with the likely return of linebacker Danny Trevathan to the lineup (as Broncos’ SB Nation Mile High Report stated Wednesday, he practiced fully for the first time since training camp) and fresh off of a bye, seem to be a slam dunk, at least in the eyes of Vegas sportsbooks, to get back in the winning swing of things Sunday against Arizona.

With that said, notwithstanding the Broncos are favored by +8, the Cardinals are still unbeaten, leading the NFC West with a record of 3-0 and are coming off of a bye themselves.

The Cardinals, who because of their location in the secluded Southwest, do not get much recognition but perhaps they should as statistically they bring many impressive numbers to the table.

This season, the Cardinals are second in the NFL in scoring defense, surrendering only 15 points per game and are +21 in point differential this season, sixth in league annals.

Incidentally, in the 4th Quarter of their first three games this season, the Cardinals are +30, outscoring opponents 30-0 in the last stanza in games against the San Diego Chargers, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

In breaking news amid this column, Bleacher Report has stated Trevathan is a go for Sunday as confirmed by Broncos fanatic Brad Snider, an avid Broncos stuff Tweeter. While I have previously cited the Broncos’ defensive statistics in past columns, there is no need to this afternoon, as I fully anticipate Trevathan’s reemergence in the lineup will change things dramatically, time will tell.

Additionally for the Cardinals, wide receiver Michael Floyd, a third-year veteran out of Notre Dame, is currently leading the NFL in yards per reception at 22.3 so whether the quarterback has been Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton, he has been an effective downfield threat early on this season.

Meanwhile, rookie wideout John Brown, a product of Division II power Pittsburg State (Kan.), has 3 touchdowns on 9 receptions, so he scores touchdowns 33 percent of the time he catches the ball and has proven difficult to cover for many opposing defensive backs early on this season.

Per Wednesday reports, it appears that Palmer will be out for the third consecutive game, as FOX Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan said Arians excused him from practice to get a “second opinion” about his shoulder, as apparently nerve damage is causing him to go through some regression.

If Palmer cannot go, Stanton, a 7-year veteran out of Michigan State who first appeared with the Detroit Lions in 2008, will get the nod.  Stanton has completed 51.6 percent of his passes this season in games against the Giants and 49ers,  throwing for 411 yards, 2 TD’s and 0 INT’s in those games.

Perhaps the understudy Stanton will use versatile tailback Andre Ellington more to cope with the Broncos’ strong pass rush (three forced fumbles in as many games, as well as 8 sacks, or 2.6 per game) as he has averaged 85.3 scrimmage yards thus far this season.

Defensively, the Cardinals will attempt to stymie Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning with a bunch of exotic disguises and with his longtime offensive coordinator Tom Moore serving as the Cardinals’ “offensive consultant” as well as Arizona head coach Bruce Arians having worked previously with him in Indianapolis, they may know his propensities better than many other opponents would.

Nevertheless, Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson told the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala Wednesday that it is extremely difficult to prep for Manning because he has seen pretty much every defense that exists out there in his now 17 seasons of NFL experience.

As for the Broncos,  Manning’s next touchdown pass gives him 500 for his career, which would make he and legendary retired signal-caller Brett Favre the only two in NFL history who have thrown 500 touchdown passes in NFL history.

As was also pointed out by FOX 31 Denver sports reporter, producer and anchor Michelle Tuckner, this could also be a historic Sunday for  Broncos wideout Wes Welker as he needs only two receptions to tie former Bronco Rod Smith, with 849 receptions, which would be the most in NFL history for an undrafted wideout as Welker was out of Texas Tech in 2004.

Overall, I think this is a matchup we could see in the Super Bowl, both the Broncos and Cardinals have impressed the diligent film-watchers this season and sport a combined record of 5-1 thus far through the season’s first month and with both coming off a bye, the squads should be fresh and ready for what should be the best game of Week 5.