Remember when the Arizona Cardinals used to ruin the careers of their own players? Well, it's nice, for once, to see them do it to an opponent.
Rewind to January 10, when the Cards went to Charlotte for an NFC Divisional Playoff game. QB Jake Delhomme (pictured above) had successfully overcome reconstructive elbow surgery to lead the Panthers to a 12-4 record and the NFC South divisional title. But Arizona's swarming D forced the error-prone Delhomme into five interceptions and a lost fumble and Carolina dropped the game 33-13. Since then, Delhomme has tossed 13 picks, lost two fumbles, and thrown for only four TDs in his past seven games. This season, he has a 56.5 passing rating, and is ranked dead last in the NFL.
On Wednesday, Carolina head coach John Fox stated that Delhomme would get the start Sunday when the 2-4 Panthers visit Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium. There's been some talk, obviously, to go with either Matt Moore or A.J. Feeley, but that's not happening for now.
Oh, by the way, Delhomme received a five-year contract extension with $12 million guaranteed over the next three years. That could have something to do with keeping the 34-year-old signal caller back there. You know, that whole trying-to-get-your-money's-worth thing.
The 4-2 Cardinals are looking to build off their titanic win last Sunday against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands.
When they have the ball, they'll try to further the momentum gained in the rushing attack, led by Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. Though Arizona has gained 590 yards through the air in its two previous meetings against Carolina, the Panthers bring a stingy pass defense. The prone-to-being-out-of-synch offense must establish the run at least a little bit against folks like Carolina LB Thomas Davis, who leads the team in tackles with 48.
If that doesn't happen, Arizona's defense will need to bring the opportunistic attitude that was on display Sunday when they picked off Giants' QB Eli Manning three times. Carolina leads the league with 21 turnovers, so look for the Cards to bring the heat with a bunch of blitz packages.
For Carolina, a matchup advantage looms for WRs Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad if Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who suffered an ankle injury in the New York game, is unable to return. (At the time of writing, his status remained uncertain.) That wouldn't be good for the Cards, who are still near the bottom in team passing D.
Game time is 2:15 p.m. TV: FOX (dependent on the Cardinals meeting the 2:15 p.m. Friday NFL deadline extension for selling out the game). Radio: KTAR-FM 92.3. For more info, go to www.azcardinals.com.
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