As we let go of the disastrous loss to the Colts on Sunday, we move on to week 4 of the NFL schedule, which has the Cardinalsluckily scheduled with a bye. The bye week comes no sooner as the Cardinals have mightily struggled through three games. They have yet to win a home game, and the offense has looked more out of sync then ever before. The offensive line is in flux, and the play calling has had a few head scratchers, to say the least. Something needs to change in order for the Cardinals to take back the NFC West, and although the rest of the West lost games last week, this division is clearly more competitive then last year. The 49ers are obviously the real deal, while the Seahawks have produced solid play despite an ample amount of injuries. As the bye week comes and goes, much of us will wonder how much of an affect the extra week off has on the team. Let's take a look at the last two years of teams coming off their bye weeks:
- Teams coming off their bye week are 37-26-1 with a 57% win percentage.
- Teams that made the playoffs the last two years are 19-5 coming off their bye weeks.
- Teams who played at home after a bye week were 21-10-1.
- Teams who played on the road after their bye week were 15-17.
For the last 7 seasons, the Cardinals have been 4-3 after their bye week. All four wins have been at home, while they lost two on the road. In their wins, they won by an average of 4.8 points. In their two losses, they lost by an average of 14 points. It's pretty obvious that the Cardinals are much better when coming off a bye week at home. That brings us to the next point - how can the bye improve the Cardinals season? As most of us have figured out, the Cardinals will take advantage of the early bye, by recovering from injuries. Last week 16 Cardinals appeared on the injury report, with 6 of them being questionable. The added week of rest should clear a good amount of players from the injury report.
They will also use the extra time to fix the mistakes that have hurt the Cardinals at this point in the season. Ken Whisenhunt was able to dampen the penalty bug from week one, so we should see some other fine tweaks to the team. The offensive line will need to be improved, especially with the likes of Mario Williams and Antonio Smith coming to town. Finally, they need to rid themselves of their turnover-prone ways. They are currently -2 in the giveaway/takeaway margin, something that can't continue for the remainder of the season. Although it's not a turnover, the Cardinals have been horrid on converting 3rd downs this year, which feels just as bad. They are currently ranked 29th with a whopping 27% conversion rate, something the Cardinals weren't used to last year.
The last and most important factor in the bye week is game planning. The extra time gives the Cardinals a chance to not only watch the Texans play on Sunday, but watch the added game footage from this season as well. They are able to prepare extensively, an advantage the Texans won't have. Slipping to 1-3 has a 5-11 season written all over it. One thing's for sure - this next game is a must-win for the Cardinals.