We're living in trying times here in Arizona. The dreaded reverse-trifecta struck for the second time in as many weeks. With Arizona State dropping another weirdly-close matchup to a top opponent, and the Wildcats and the Cardinals perpetuating their own extended slumps, it has been quite a while since the weekends have had any football-related sunshine. Combined, the three teams' losing streak now reaches eight consecutive games -- an exasperating number.
Still, at least it can't happen for a third time in a row -- the schedule-makers saw to that. With Arizona State and Arizona enjoying a desperately-needed bye week, the free-falling Cardinals are the only team in action this weekend. The Red Birds look to put a stop to their four-game slide and pry a win from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Cardinals +8 @ Chiefs
When I first looked at this, I was slightly shocked. +8 is a pretty large spread. Still, after a few seconds I realized ... well, the Cardinals are a pretty bad team. So I guess it makes sense.
The castle definitely seems to have crumbled for Whisenhunt and his crew. Caught in the midst of a four-game losing streak, all the goodwill the Cardinals have carefully constructed over the past few years seems to be collapsing.
In a way, that has been the most interesting part of the past four weeks. The reaction from the community has functioned similar to that of an avalanche. Starting slow, building from week-to-week, until suddenly people notice that there's a crisis at hand.
After the first loss to Seattle, the public basically dismissed it as a game that the Cardinals should have lost. "It's not a big deal," we heard. "Max Hall wasn't ready for that type of environment."
Then they lost to Tampa Bay in heart-breaking fashion, and the tide subtly started to shift. Murmurs could be heard throughout the community, but the general consensus was still that the Red Birds should win the worst division in football.
Then came the Minnesota debacle, reminiscent of the horrors of the past. Those murmurs grew louder. The cries could be heard, "The same ole Cardinals back."
But there were still those who stood their ground. "Look at the schedule," they said. "The Cardinals can absolutely win the second half of that schedule."
And then last Sunday happened. Now the murmurs have become roars. "The season is over!" "Blow this team up!" It really has been a fascinating process to watch.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like an end is in sight. The Chiefs do one thing extraordinarily well: run the ball. They currently rank first in the NFL, averaging over 165 rushing per game with their ferocious twosome of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. The Cardinals have several weaknesses, but a reoccurring one: run defense. Arizona is close to last in the NFL, giving up an average of 132.4 rushing yards per game.
Combine the two stats and the outlook certainly looks bleak.
Intern Prediction: Chiefs 31, Cardinals 20
Last week's record: 1-2
Total record: 15-9