We finished last week's prediction with the Cardinals falling to the Seahawks at home, but defeating the Chiefs on the road. Many thought the outcomes of both games could be swapped, but nevertheless, the Cardinals wound up with a 6-4 record through ten games. This week, the biggest match up of the year takes place against a division rival on Monday Night Football.
Week 12 vs San Francisco 49ers
Offseason Analysis: The 49ers were substantially quiet when the free agency period began this year, but made a splash during the draft, landing two big time offensive lineman in the first round. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati shored up needs at tackle and guard, and will minister protection for Alex Smith and running room for Frank Gore. After losing three cornerbacks through free agency, they added Taylor Mays in the 2nd round of the draft while also bringing in free agents Will James and Karl Paymah. The 49ers indeed improved this offseason, while also building off of the success they had last year.
Season Outlook: After boasting a forceful defense last season, the 49ers left that unit unscathed in hopes that their solid play would carry over to 2010. The team is banking on quarterback Alex Smith to finally live up to his 1st-overall pick status. If he can, 2nd-year wide receiver Michael Crabtree, along with pro bowl-ers Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, will showcase an upgraded offense from last season. If he can't, the 49ers may find themselves riding passenger in the NFC West again.
Key Match-Up: Vernon Davis vs Darnell Dockett & Adrian Wilson - How can this not be the match-up of the game? All offseason Darnell Dockett and Vernon Davis have been 'twitter-battling', and the feud should heat up leading up to the Monday Night game. I'm not assuming that the Cardinals will double team Davis, but it's always a fiery match-up when he and Adrian Wilson line up across from each other as well.
Prediction: Win - The Cardinals' best chance at beating the 49ers in 2010 will be at home. They'll also get their first chance to play in a primetime game, so that, mixed with an intense home crowd, should get the blood pumping headed into this contest.
A prediction against the Rams and the Cardinals record after twelve games are after the jump ...
Week 13 vs St. Louis Rams
Offseason Analysis: The 2010 offseason for St. Louis was about establishing an identity, and filling needs on both sides of the ball. The Rams began by drafting a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, while also adding role players on defense in Na'il Diggs and Fred Robbins. The Rams secondary took a blow, however, after safety O.J. Atogwe became a free agent. They're still in the running to re-sign the highly sought-after playmaker, but if memory serves Cardinals' fans correct, Antrel Rolle was likely to return to Arizona. Money talks.
Season Outlook: Although they've tried to instill change in St. Louis, they can expect another losing season in 2010. With a rookie at quarterback and virtually no weapons outside of Steven Jackson on offense, they'll struggle to put points on the board. Their defense did get a lot younger, but without O.J. Atogwe, they have no playmakers on defense. With the Cardinals, 49ers, and Seahawks all improving this offseason, the Rams will remain last in the division.
Key Match-Up: Larry Fitzgerald vs Rams defense - There aren't many compelling match-ups this week, but considering Larry had a measly 48-receiving yards against the Rams at home last year, I think it's safe to say we'll see Fitzgerald go off.
Prediction: Win - The Cardinals shouldn't have a problem sweeping the Rams for the fourth year in a row, especially at home. The Rams rolled over at University of Phoenix Stadium last season; I see no reason to think differently this year.
Arizona Cardinals record after twelve games: 8-4
Although predicting an 8-4 record through the first twelve weeks will sound the homer-alarm, the Cardinals face a tough stretch of road during the final month of the season, so don't think their recent run of success will continue. Is 8-4 possible at this point and what are the chances that the Cardinals end up 4-8 through twelve games next year?