ROTB Roundtable: Carson Palmer, Playoff Hopes, and the Eagles

Norm Hall

It's an exciting time to be a Cardinals fan!

But even with all this talk of a possible Playoff spot, there are still questions to be answered.  The Writing Staff took a swing at three of these.

Don't forget to answer the questions yourself in the comments below!

1) After such a mediocre start to the season, what has led to Palmer's recent hot streak?

Jesse Reynolds: It appears that the line is giving better protection and his understanding of the offense has finally gotten to the point where he can make the risky throws knowing where people are suppose to be. Palmer is getting time to throw the ball and find the open receiver.

Alex Mann: Gotta be the stache right? Kidding. In all seriousness I think it's the fact that the entire offense has turned the corner learning the new scheme. Eight months after it was starting to be installed, the players are finally grasping it and it comes just when we needed them too. Palmer is also getting help from his line, giving him enough time to throw, the run game is looking solid, and the emergence of Rob Housler and Michael Floyd have really helped him avoid those throws to Fitzgerald in traffic.

D.L. Parsons: Mainly, a consistent "stay the course" message from the head coach and coaching staff. It was going to take time to absorb and execute the enormous amount of new info installed by the new coaching staff. It took nine games into the season, but the upshot is that it FINALLY sunk in. No matter what the team does this year, watch out for NEXT year...

Randy Fields: I think it's two things: 1) The better protection schemes being called and 2) Most importantly, he started using his check down Tight End (Housler). This causes fewer (no) interceptions and opens up the other receivers as the defense has to account for a pass catching Cardinals TE for the first time since 2008 when Warner would occasionally throw a bullet at Patrick or Pope.

Robert Norman: I haven't been the best judge of the Cardinals in the past weeks, but Palmer isn't needing to force the ball. Early on many of his receivers and him would be playing different routes leading to interceptions, he didn't have cohesion with any of them outside of Floyd and there was no run game to take the weight off him. He is doing a great job spreading the ball around to multiple receivers and all those options mean he isn't holding onto the ball as long, taking pressure off the o-line. Also, the emergence of a run game has keep defenses unbalanced forcing them to stop committing extra pass rushers.

Jess Root: There are a couple of reasons. He is comfortable now. He doesn't seem to be forcing the deep ball so much. Also, the offensive is playing better, which puts Palmer at ease. Other players are getting to the right spots, so he is able to spread the ball around. It's a very good combination.

Cdeveau: The mustache? No really, that's a good question. I've seen talk about how Palmer has finally learned the system. In fact one comment noted the similarities between Palmer's first games in Oakland his turnaround. Perhaps everyone is on the same page this deep into the season. If that is the case then I would expect the games from here out to have the same feel offensively.

2) How confident are you that the team can make the Playoffs?

Jesse Reynolds: I'm fairly confident this team is a playoff deserving but the gauntlet of schedule we have plus the tiebreaker SF and the recent play of Carolina makes it a difficult path to the playoffs.

Alex Mann: I am confident that this team COULD. However the NFC is far too competitive to allow this team to get in without any help. They need to win their games, their next five if possible, and hope that whomever play the Panthers and Niners can win a game or two against them.

D.L. Parsons: I'm preparing the delicious crow I will have to eat if they do. Many obstacles stand in their way: the 49ers, other teams making a hot run, the Cards reading their own press notices and slipping up on their own. I'm still fattening up the crow, but I ain't killed it yet...

Randy Fields: It's going to be tough, they have a tough schedule and they have a big tiebreaker to duke it out with the 49ers. The ball is in their court and unfortunately they'll need to win at least three of the four or get down to the tiebreaker with the 49ers for their chance to get into the playoffs. I like the chances and I'm 100% bought in for the ride.

Robert Norman: Mark me at the 40-60 they can make the playoffs, but only because all three NFC West teams are going to be tough to beat. The Rams also have been playing inspired offense while still fielding Robert Quinn and Chris Long. The 49ers are 7-4, having lost to the Saints and the other wild card contender, Panthers, have a better division record. Oh, and the Seahawks are still the Seahawks until proven otherwise.

Jess Root: I am very confident that the team can make the playoffs. I am very confident that they are playoff contenders. This team is good now. But I am not super confident they will. They are playing fantastic football right now and still are on the outside. I think it will come down to the Week 17 game against the Niners. That could go either way.

Cdeveau: Before the season I had them pegged at 5 wins. Now people are mentioning them for the playoffs, but I hear a lot of ifs and buts. Playoffs are mathematically possible, but I think to many things have to fall just right for it to be probable. But as always, I'm happy to be proven wrong.

3) Looking ahead to the Eagles game later this week, what will be the biggest obstacle as the team attempts to win in Philadelphia?

Jesse Reynolds: Their team speed is going to be difficult to match but I think our defense is going to be their kryptonite. Peterson, Mathieu, Wash, Dansby, etc are all very fast and mobile defenders and so spreading us out won't be the same  advantage they get against other teams. They will he difficult but I like the matchup and I love the way our offense is playing.

Alex Mann: They face another tough test at runningback, and a quarterback who is playing extremely hot right now. Nick Foles has 16 TD's and 0 picks. That is a recipe for success. Shutting down Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson will also be huge. We need our pass rush to be there and not allow Foles time to throw it deep down field to his speed receivers. It will be a test on both front for the defense. Shutting down Lesean McCoy while pressuring Nick Foles up front, and keeping the speedsters in front of them in the secondary.

D.L. Parsons: The Eagles' 'bend but don't break' defense. They allow over 400 yds a game, yet still manage to pull out wins.

Randy Fields: The cold weather. I live in Baltimore and it's starting to get chilly out here and there's a lot of wind. Winter is coming (he he he) and the Cardinals need to prove they can play as consistently in the open chilly air as they do in the closed dome at home.

Robert Norman: Philadelphia has been firing on all cylinders the past three weeks, so the defense is going to have a hard test. They have the league best running game and a top 10 passing game. Meaning the defense cannot sit out the first quarter like they did against the Jags. However, a few things to note.  Philly has yet to beat a team with a winning record and they are last in pass defense.

Jess Root: I think it is two things. One is the speed of their offense and the elite nature of their running game with Shady McCoy. That will be a huge matchup. The other is the offense's play in the red zone. Philly has been good at limiting points and the Cards have been leaving points on the field. They can overcome one, but not likely both.

Cdeveau: The trip back east, honestly. Past that, the offense being consistent and placing points on the board. 

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