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Carson Palmer: Playoff quarterback or fool's gold

Palmer has been on an amazing hot streak of late, playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, can he keep it up?

Christian Petersen

Football can be fun, something Arizona Cardinals fans weren’t sure of the last couple of seasons in the Ken Whisenhunt era. Yet here they sit, just outside of the playoffs thanks to the 49ers beating the Redskins on Monday Night football, but they are in the thick of things, no matter if no one is talking about it.

The reason the Cardinals sit at 7-4 can be attributed to two different entities, the defense, and the quarterback play. When the Cardinals were winning earlier in the season they were winning with a swarming, opportunistic defense and just enough offense, now the Cardinals are winning with a very good offense that has allowed the Cardinals defense to take the step to the next level, and become maybe the best unit in the NFL.

On the flipside, Carson Palmer has turned a corner it seems in the Bruce Arians offense, and has become one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL over the last four games, thanks Shaun.

The question now is: is this the real Carson Palmer, or is this fool’s gold? We all know that Palmer over the first seven games was: 135/229 59% 1,427 yards 8 TD 13 INT 65.15 passer rating and the Cardinals were 3-4 and Palmer’s two best games statistically came in games one and two versus the Rams and Lions.

In those three wins the Cardinals beat one team with a winning record at the time, the Detroit Lions who were 1-0 after the first game of the season and caught the Carolina Panther "at the right time" before they went on their still going seven game win streak.

In Palmer’s "down games" of New Orleans through Seattle, Palmer was an astonishingly bad 113/187 60% 1166 yards 5 TD 11 INT 64.15, and the Cardinals went 2-3 and scored an average of 16.5 points per game.

Why does that matter? Palmer has gone 137/208 66% 11 TD and 4 INT in games against the Rams, Lions, Falcons, Texans, Jaguars and Colts, with a 5-1 record versus the 17th, 27th, 31st, 21st, 30th, and 24th rated pass defenses according to Football Outsiders, since we are all over their stats now, or an average of the 25th ranked passing defense(s).

The "down games" were against the 5th, 11th, 6th, 7th and 1st ranked pass defenses or an average of 6th ranked.

Left on the season the Cardinals face another bad… really bad pass defense in the Eagles who are 26th, then they get the Rams again, then the Titans who are 15th, and then of course the Seahawks and 49ers.

It is interesting that the final three games come against three top 15 passing defenses, because that will continue to put the pressure on Carson Palmer, and that will show everyone which quarterback he really is.