Today is a big day for the Arizona Cardinals. They have the opportunity to get a win for the second week in a row on Sunday Night Football and say to the nation they are one of the league's elite teams. They will have to beat one of the NFL's best teams to do so -- the Cincinnati Bengals, who come to University of Phoenix Stadium at 8-1 on the year.
Let's look at the matchup:
This will only be the 11th time ever the two teams have met in the regular season. They last met in 2011 in Cincinnati. If you recall, the Cardinals were still somewhat in the mix for the postseason, but lost 23-16 to the Bengals. They could have tied the game, as John Skelton had Early Doucet wide open in the end zone, but the throw was too short and Doucet lost his footing, falling down when he attempted to come back to the ball.
The Bengals hold a 6-4 edge all time against the Cardinals. They first faced one another in 1973. However, the Cardinals have never lost at home against Cincinnati. The record at home against the Bengals is 3-0.
The two teams are very balanced.
Offensively, the Cardinals are first in the league in yards and touchdowns and second in the league in scoring, averaging 36 points a game and over 420 yards per contest. The Bengals are fifth and seventh in scoring and in yards, averaging 26 points and over 376 yards per game.
Arizona is eighth in rushing and fourth in passing, averaging nearly 124 yards on the ground and over 297 through the air. Cincinnati is 13th and 11th in those respective categories, averaging 115 yards on the ground and 261 yards passing per game.
Both teams have allowed only 14 sacks.
Defensively, Cincinnati is the league's best in points allowed. They allow less than 17 a game. Arizona is 11th in scoring defense, giving up under 21.
Arizona is third in yards allowed, while Cincy is 11th. The Cardinals are fourth against the rush (under 93 yards allowed per game) and seventh against the pass (less than 224 yards per game), while the Bengals are 13th in both categories (allowing 115 yards and just over 236 yards per game, respectively).
Arizona is +1 on the season in turnover ratio. Cincinnati is +3.
If you hadn't previously heard, Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer once played for the Bengals. He was drafted first overall in 2003 by Cincy and played through 2010, when he decided he didn't want to play for the Bengals anymore. He was eventually traded to the Raiders, who then traded Palmer to Arizona in 2013.
Tight end Jermaine Gresham spent five seasons in Cincinnati. He was drafted in the first round in 2010. He was a two-time Pro Bowlers there, catching 280 passes and 24 touchdowns.
Defensive lineman Frostee Rucker played six years for the Bengals. He was drafted by them in 2006 in the third round. He played through 2011.
Two Bengals played for Arizona. Starting right tackle Eric Winston started all 16 games at right tackle for Arizona in 2013. Kicker Mike Nugent briefly played for the Cardinals in 2009, appearing in two game and making two field goals and eight extra points.
Larry Fitzgerald needs 13 yards to reach 13,000 receiving yards in his career. He would be the third-youngest player to ever reach that mark.
If he catches nine passes, he will pass Randy Moss for 12th place overall on the NFL's all-time receptions list. With 103 yards, he will pass Steve Largent for 16th all-time in receiving yards.
With 34 passing yards, Carson Palmer will pass Dave Krieg for 18th place all-time in career passing yards.
With 100 rushing yards, Chris Johnson would be just the third player in team history to rush for 100 yards in five games in a season. The last to do it was Ottis Anderson in 1983, who did it seven times.