After three weeks, it is the Arizona Cardinals who are atop the NFC West. The Super Bowl-contending San Francisco 49ers are 2-1 after losing their Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. The Seattle Seahawks, who were expected to be the biggest division rival to the 49ers this season, are 1-1 and could be 1-2 after a tough Monday night matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The St. Louis Rams have shown signs of improvement this year but will likely not factor into who wins the division.
At 3-0, the Cardinals are only one of three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL (the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons are the other two teams). Despite coming into the year with many questions on offense, the Cardinals have found a way to beat the Seahawks, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles to the surprise of many. Despite the fast start, should the 49ers or Seahawks be concerned about the Cardinals presence?
Ever since the departure of Kurt Warner at quarterback, the Cardinals have struggled at the most important position on offense. Over the years, the team has used signal callers such as Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, and Max Hall with little success. With a quarterback competition between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, neither really looked like a great option coming into the year. However, with strong showings by Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, and Todd Heap, the Cardinals have somehow played well enough on offense despite having a lacking run game featuring Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells.
If the 49ers and Seahawks have anything to worry about, it would be the Cardinals’ emerging defense. With playmakers all over the field like Daryl Washington, Patrick Peterson, Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, and Kerry Rhodes, the Cardinals were able to put a great deal of pressure on Tom Brady and Michael Vick in past weeks, showcasing their defensive dominance. Uncertainties with their offense aside, Arizona’s defense is definitely shaping up to be a solid group in the NFL and could cause a shakeup in the NFC West standings.
When it’s all said and done, the 49ers will likely still win the NFC West and the Seahawks could overtake the Cardinals in the standings. However, after this strong start by Arizona, Seattle in Week 14 and San Francisco in Weeks 8 and 17 will definitely need to take the Cardinals seriously in order to avoid making the biggest surprise of September the biggest surprise in the postseason.
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