Another big win yesterday for your Arizona Cardinals in their first road game of the 2015 season vs. the Chicago Bears in the Windy City. We know the final score of the game and that it was over by the 4th quarter, but what about the stats that reflect how it came to be.
That's what we'll be looking at this season and we'll also show that not all statistical categories are equal when it comes to ultimate victory using the Prob-O-Matic machine and we'll also include voting on which you think was the key stat that led to the outcome of the game (lots of good choices today).
We'll also begin to include Cardinals team rankings in the major statistical categories both offensively and defensively (and same goes for statistical differentials).
It turns out that a number of the stats were very representative of yesterday's final score and some others not so much with a few surprises and even a couple team records thrown in.
The second consecutive season the Cardinals start out with two wins and Bruce Arians moves to 23-11 since taking over as head coach. The Big Red grab the lead in the competitive NFL West and for entertainment purposes only, the Cardinals are 2-0 vs. the spread and twice 'over'.
Points Scored: 48-23
With yesterdays game, the Cardinals' 79 points on the season tops the league. Compare this season's 39.5 points per game with last year's 19.7 per game and the 18.5 points per game margin of victory just so happens to rank the Cardinals 1st in points scored differential.
Total Net Yards: 300-335
Surprisingly, the Cardinals were outgained in total yards when adding together rushing yards (115-109) and passing yards (185-226). But then again, 5 of the 11 Cardinal victories last year happened when trailing in total yards. The Big Red have learned many ways to win a football game.
That is to say the Cardinals picked off 2 Bears passes while yielding one back on a blocked pass. It turns out that other than points scored, nothing has shown to help a team win a game like picking more than you're picked (according to the link above).
So far this NFL season, teams that out-intercepted their opponents have won 21 of those games while losing — 1.
Once again the new, improved Cardinals offensive line allows zero sacks while we sack the opponent two times. Sacks also rate highly when it comes to ultimate victory and teams on the plus side of this category are now 20-9 in those games this year.
Return yardage includes kickoff, punt and interception returns where the big story of course was the two huge touchdowns included in the 150 yards (more on that below).
Penalties: 8/58 - 14/170
Contrary to what we fans may think at times, the Cardinals were actually the 2nd favorite team of officials last season and are starting off this season on a good note. The Cardinals are on the plus side by 4 penalties per game after two contests and the 170 yards on penalties accepted yesterday becomes a new franchise record.
Third Down Efficiency: 5/9 56% - 2/12 17%
The league average in this category is about 40% which makes the offensive numbers very good and the defensive numbers outstanding. After the first two games, the Cardinals defense has allowed a 30% conversion rate and ranks near the top.
Red Zone Efficiency: 4/4 100% - 1/2 50%
You can't do any better than 4 for 4 and 100% or the 7 for 7 for that matter after two games played and if the Cardinals keep this up it would be some kind of a record. It's also a good way to win football games where the league average is about 54 percent.
Time of Possession: 30:04 - 29:56
... was irrelevant.
Larry Fitzgerald finds the fountain of youth and is back to his old ways with a hat trick of 3 touchdowns! Fitz's 8 receptions on 9 targets for 112 yards computes at 14.0 per as he gains more yards than all other Cardinals receivers combined. Fitz pumps up his career touchdown total to 92 and counting.
Carson Palmer goes 17 for 24 (71%) highlighted by 4 touchdown tosses and earns a quarterback rating of 115.5. Palmer's only interception of the season comes on a pass blocked at the line of scrimmage before the half. Carson Palmer is now 15-2 when starting for the Arizona Cardinals.
David Johnson turns heads yet again with 5 carries for 42 yards at 8.1 yards per carry and a touchdown — but not before setting a new Cardinals' kickoff return record of 108 yards and the score to open the game. Surprisingly, not all 5 carries resulted in touchdowns as we've already come to expect when CJ touches the ball.
Tony Jefferson and Patrick Peterson snag an interception apiece and Jefferson returns his for 26 yards and a touchdown and also leads the team with 9 tackles (one for loss).
* For those interested in learning more about the relative values of statistical categories pertaining to victory before voting on the poll, click here