The Arizona Cardinals are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 1974. The main reason is a strong defense that started coming together in the second half of last season. That has continued into this season to a point where the team is (surprisingly) in sole possession of first place in the NFC West.
Savvy fantasy football owners from coast to coast are scrambling to “add” the Cardinals defense to their rosters for this coming weekend.
Consider – the Cardinals defense has allowed just one touchdown over the last 28 opponent possessions and just two touchdowns overall in the team’s first three games. The Cardinals lead the NFL in TDs allowed and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown to any of their first three opponents.
A major reason for the Cardinals NFL-best 10-2 record over the last 12 games is the fact that the defense has allowed just 14 TDs in those 12 contests. That ties the team with Houston for the lowest total in the NFL over that span – despite the Texans having played just 11 games. Arizona’s 1.33 TDs allowed per game is the top total in the NFL since Week 9 of last season.
Smart drafting and a total buy-in to defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s system are keys to the Cardinals’ defensive surge. Third-year linebacker Daryl Washington is the aggressive young anchor who seems to be all over the field on every play. He leads the team with three sacks. But others aren’t far behind – including Calais Campbell, Paris Lennon and Quentin Groves with two apiece.
The Cardinals are second in the league with 12 sacks. In the last three games, the Cardinals sacked Seahawk QB Russell Wilson three times, Patriots QB Tom Brady four times and Eagles QB Michael Vick five times. Seven different players have collected sacks for the Cardinals so far this season (Washington-3, Campbell– 2, Lenon-2, Groves-2, LB O’Brien Schofield-1, LB Sam Acho-1 and FS Kerry Rhodes-1).
With five sacks against the Eagles, the Cardinals defense has now record multiple sacks in nine consecutive outings, which ranks as the longest active streak in the NFL.
Others on the defense are contributing also also Patrick Peterson and Adrian Wilson both have interceptions and James Sanders returned a Vick fumble 93-yards for a touchdown last Sunday.
The Cardinals (and fantasy team owners) are looking for the trend to continue Sunday when Arizona hosts the Miami Dolphins.