Week 1 of the NFL brings us two young quarterbacks taking over their team. Both were considered underdogs to end up where they are. On the Cardinals' side, they had Kevin Kolb, whom they paid dearly in money and in talent (in the trade with the Eagles). Kolb was expected, after having a full offseason, do be ready to go and take over the offense competently. Skelton was statistically bad in 2011, but the team won games with him. After a preseason battle that wasn't that great between the two QBs, Skelton was named the starter.
Wilson was a highly successful quarterback at Wisconsin. His draft stock fell a bit because he is under six feet tall. Seattle drafted him in the third round and also signed free agent Matt Flynn to a multi-year contract. Flynn was the one (like Kolb) everyone believed would be the guy.
Flynn was not bad in the preseason. Wilson awed everyone and won the starting job. His energy and production showed that, at least for now, his height is not a factor.
The two now start on Sunday for the first time in their career now as undisputed starters. What can we expect from them?
One thing that is strange statistically for Skelton is his ability to suddenly become Tom Brady in the fourth quarter. Late in games he is money.
How much better was #azcards J. Skelton late in '11 games vs. early? 1st 20 throws: 51%, 4 TDs, 10 ints. After that? 60.3%, 7 Tds, 4 ints.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) September 7, 2012
1 more Skelton stat: in 11, passer rating first three quarters: 54.8. Fourth quarters: 92.5— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) September 7, 2012
Clearly the team will want his performance evened out, or at least brought up in the front end of games.
Wilson, though, is a big unknown. Sure he was fantastic in the preseason, but the one thing he has not yet proven is if he can do it on Sundays. He hasn't seen everything that defenses can do.
Both players face stiff defenses. Seattle's unit was in the top-10 of the league a season ago, and the Cardinals believe their unit is that good this season. Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton will throw a number of things out there at Wilson.
That in and of itself will affect his play.
I expect Wilson to have a tough time, but will have two or three big plays. The Cardinals have been successful against running quarterbacks. They have had some nice games against Michael Vick, although Wilson is not the same thing. Wilson is a polished pocket passer who happens to move around very well and can make plays with his legs.
A season ago, the Cardinals defense was torched by Cam Newton in his debut to the tune of over 400 passing yards. This year will be different because the defense actually knows how to play Horton's schemes. There will not likely be a 400-yard performance by anybody against Arizona in 2012.
My prediction for Wilson? I think he will go 15/29 for 182 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
What we can expect is a performance that shows he won't quit. He will make a few plays but will get fooled a few times.
Now for Skelton.
Seattle's defense git even better. They still have a formidable (yet somewhat anonymous) front line. Their secondary has talent.
Skelton's job is simply to not turn the ball over. If he can do that, he doesn't have to be great. However, he is a winner at home. He is 5-0 at University of Phoenix Stadium. The team has a more talented group of running backs in Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells.
We will see a better early Skelton, as that is part of what happens when you get more experience. His decision making in the preseason was better. His reputed inaccuracy will be put to the test.
What will the result be?
Skelton will go 20/38 for 259 yards, two TDs and an INT.
That will be enough. The Cardinals will pull out another close win, defeating Seattle 20-16.
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