The Arizona Cardinals take to the road with mirrored 1-1 record after the simulation predicted a win and a loss which was reversed from what took place in real life. We'll see if we can start to predict what will happen using the simulations and see how closely the simulated season records match up with real life for the NFC West as the season progresses.
This is with the week 3 roster adjustments from Madden 25 as well. It looks like it destroyed the Cardinals and made the Saints elite.
Some set up notes about this weeks simulation:
1) RB - Predicted Mendenhall would be but this week due to his questionable status and his lack of practice for the week. So he was moved out of the active depth chart. This caused Andre Ellington to take over as the RB1, Ryan Williams as RB2, Stephen Taylor as RB3. Alfonso Smith is still unavailable.
2) TE - Added Rob Housler back to TE1.
3) MLB - Moved Daryl Washington out of the active depth chart to reflect his suspension status.
4) K - Shout out to RedC who told me to update the KOS position where it listed Zastudil as the kicker which was causing the sim to use him for kickoffs.
5) WR - Fitz says he's playing every Sunday, so I've got him at WR1.
The Arizona Cardinals win the toss and elect to receive. The kick is deep and the Cardinals take the touchback and start at the 20 yard line. The first play is a run up the middle for two yards and the second run is for four yards as the Cardinals want to test the defensive line of the Saints and commit early to the running game. On third and 5 Carson Palmer makes a quick throw to Larry Fitzgerald for six yards getting the first down, but the drive stalls shortly after that and Palmer is unable to connect with Michael Floyd on two consecutive attempts and Ellington is unable to work any magic on a long 3rd and 10 screen. The Cardinals punt the ball to the Saints 25 yard line where Darren Sproles returns the punt 3 yards before being taken down.
Drew Brees goes right to work with the mismatch between Jimmy Graham and the Cardinals linebackers. The first pass of the game is a 17 yard strike up the seam. Two short runs follow with Sproles, followed by another 8 yard catch for Graham. The Saints are running on first down and throwing on second and third, on a 2nd and 7 at the Cardinals 45 Brees throws a deep pass to Colson to gain 25 yards. But much like last weeks sim, the Cardinals allow a lot of yards between the 20s but become very solid in the red zone. The Saints have to settle for a 40 yard field goal on their opening drive (0-3 Saints).
On the Cardinals second possession Palmer has a lot of pressure and is able to throw the ball away to not take the sack, but ultimately it ends with a three and out and a short punt that barely makes it to the Saints 32 yard line. The Saints offense comes out with a single back and starts spreading the ball around to take advantage of the short rest for the Cardinals defense, Sproles has a catch and run for 15 yards, then Moore for 19, Colston for 8, Moore for 10, setting up a Colston 9 yard TD catch (0 - 10 Saints). With 38 seconds left in the first quarter the Cardinals know that the game could slip away from them very easily if they don't start giving the defense time to rest with a sustained drive and putting some points on the board.
The Cardinals open the drive with a 26 yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald to get the Cardinals to midfield. Ellington is getting a lot of carries for 2-3 yards at a time, much lower than his previous gains against the Lions, but it keeps the clock moving and allows the defense to rest. Unfortunatelly, the drive stalls and the Cardinals are forced to punt the ball away to open the 2nd quarter.
Drew Brees uses the same hurry up offense that scored the previous touchdown to make three successive strikes down the field using Colston to move the ball 12 yards, then Jimmy Graham to catch for 10, and 18 yards. Sproles catches the defense on their heels and is able to run 8 yards, setting up Pierre Thomas to run 5 yards as a change of pace. Brees connects with two more passes setting up first and goal. On the first play he throws a 10 yard pass to Thomas for the TD (0-17 Saints). The lack of pressure is allowing Brees to pick the defense apart.
The Cardinals next possession begins with another 3 yard Ellington run, followed by the first sack of the day. Palmer is sacked for a loss of five yards on second down. At 3rd and 12 Palmer connects with Roberts, his favorite third down weapon who falls just short of the sticks for an 11 yard catch. The Cardinals punt the ball back to the Saints. The Cardinals defense sees the game pulling away from them as the Saints throw a 20 yard pass to Colston on 3rd and 8 followed by a 9 yard pass to Moore on first down. Following continued success through the air in big chunks Brees his Colston for a 10 yard TD pass ( 0 - 24 Saints). With 2:38 on the clock the Cardinals have the ball for 32 seconds before punting the ball back to the Saints due to the lack of production. The Cardinals defense is able to force a three and out and use a timeout to stop the clock at 1:27. The Cardinals unfortunately are unable to do anything with the defensive stand and following a three and out punt the ball back to the Saints with 59 seconds left and two timeouts. Luckily the Saints are unable to get within field goal range before time expires on the clock.
The Saints receive the ball in the second half and open the half with a 21 yard strike to Colston. Brees is able to continue to march the ball down the field through the air capping the drive off with a 7 yard TD pass to Lance Moore (0 - 31 Saints). The half time adjustments seem to have not been enough for the Cardinals offense as their next drive continues much like their last, the Cardinals have a three and out and punt the ball back to the Saints. Brees has four consecutive passes of 6 and 10 to Thomas, then 25 to Colston, and 22 to Givens that ends in a TD ( 0 - 38 Saints). The Cardinals get one good drive during the rest of the third quarter, but it ends with a Punt.
The Saints open the 4th quarter and start thrashing the Cardinals exhausted defense with six consecutive runs with Sproles breaking of 4-5 yards per attempt. The drive ends with a 41 yard field goal (0-41 Saints). The Cardinals offense is now playing for it's pride and is able to complete a 19 yard pass to Andre Roberts, which is followed up by another 13 yards for Roberts. Fitzgerald makes a pair of catches for 13 total which allows Roberts to get open for a 15 yard catch on the other side of the field. Deep in Saints territory Ellington runs the ball for 8 yards and draws a facemask penalty against the defense setting up the Cardinals at the 2 yard line. Ellington plunges into the end zone ( Cardinals 7 - 41 Saints) with 4:45 left in the game. The Saints are now in clock run down mode and use Thomas to start chewing up the clock, with three successful runs of 5-6 yards per attempt the Cardinals defense is exhausted and can not stop the run. Knowing this Brees uses playaction and passes 27 yards to Lance Moore setting the Saints up deep in Cardinal territorty. Jimmy Graham is still hungry for touchdowns and Brees hits him in the seam for 18 more yards followed by a 2 yard toss for a score ( 7 - 48 Saints). The Cardinals last possession is much like their first possession, it ends with a three and out. The Saints line up with two minutes left and start running the ball to run out the clock, but they are unfortunately successful and drive to the Cardinals 30 yard line before stalling allowing Hartley to attempt and successfully convert a 48 yard field goal (7-51 Saints). The Cardinals attempt a few passes in garbage time and Rob Housler makes his first catch of the season for 10 yards as time expires on this embarassment of a game.
Box Score: 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || Final
Cardinals 0 || 0 || 0 || 7 || 7
Saints 10|| 14|| 14|| 14|| 51
First Downs -
Third Downs -
Cardinals 3-14 (21%)
Saints 10-15 (66%)
Cardinals - 0
Brees - Rating 145.8, 42/51, 490 Yards, 6 TDs, 9.6 avg
Palmer - Rating 61.6, 17/36, 174 Yards, 0 TDs, 4.8 avg, 1 sack
Sproles - 19 att, 72 yards
Ellington - 13 att, 34 yards, 1 TD
Thomas - 12 att, 34 yards
Taylor - 1 att, 4 yards
Colston 12 rec, 165 yards, 2 TD
Graham 11 rec, 118 yards, 1 TD
Moore 8 rec, 108 yards, 1 TD
Fitzgerald 7 rec, 69 yards
Roberts 5 rec, 82 yards
Givens 4 rec, 45 yards, 1 TD
The Cardinals fall to 1-2 following this embarassing loss as Arians and company look to rebuild and find a way to generate pressure on the QB.