There was a red moon rising over Arizona shortly after the Cardinals eclipsed the San Francisco 49ers yesterday afternoon by a whopping margin of 47-7 where the stats were just as lopsided as the final score. There's a lot to cover so we'll get right to it on the way to voting on the stat that mattered most in the Big Red's victory.
Record 3 - 0
The Cardinals start out the season with three consecutive wins marking the first time they've done that since — last year. This time it's good for a two game lead in the division with 13 games to go (one at a time).
For entertainment purposes only, the Cards are 3 - 0 against the spread and three times 'over'.
Points Scored 47 - 7
The Cardinals remain the highest scoring team in the NFL, which includes all scoring of course, like special teams and defense but whatever works for the Cardinals to the tune of an even 42 points per game. Better yet, the Big Red are leaving the field behind when it comes to scoring margin, winning by an average of more than 25 points per game.
First Downs 28 - 10
It's no wonder Arizona now ranks 1st in first downs allowed defensively with 15.3 per game, and coincidentally the Cardinals also lead the league in first down differential at +9.3 (offensive - defensive).
Net Passing Yards 307 - 53
The 49ers are held to 67 total passing yards that when subtracting 14 yards (for sacks) comes out to be an eye-opening 53 yards net. Out-passing your opponent by a factor of nearly six is truly air supremacy.
Interceptions 4 - 1
Research has shown that other than points scored, nothing helps a team win games like picking more than you're picked.
So far this NFL season, teams that out-intercepted their opponents have won 30 of those games while losing — 1, so when you intercept 4 passes and two happen to be pick-sixes ...
The Arizona Cardinals defense now leads the National Football League in interceptions with 7.
Safeties 1 - 0
We're including this one just because how often do we get to vote for safeties?
Red Zone Efficiency 4/5 80%
The perfect mark fell but not before reaching 9 for 9 when it comes to red zone efficiency (the touchdown scoring kind), and came to an end as time was running out at the end of the first half. The Big Red lead the league in red zone efficiency at 91.6 percent.
Time of Possession 36:32 - 23:28
With no small part played by the advantage in first downs (see above), the Cardinals offense ruled the clock with the possible adverse effect of limiting the Cardinals defense's scoring opportunities.
Penalties 4 - 6
Included here not because 2 fewer penalties were a factor in yesterday's game, but because the Cardinals move into 1st place on the most popular list of NFL officials by over 3 penalties per game differential. Arizona placed as 2nd favorite in 2014.
Carson Palmer runs his record as a starter in his last 18 games to 16-2 (and 9 straight), completing 20 of 32 attempts, a pair of touchdowns and his first intercept of the season for a quarterback rating of 102.5.
Larry Fitzgerald is truly a man on a mission and added 2 touchdown receptions to the cause on 9 catches for a total of 134 yards on the day. Fitz now has 94 touchdown receptions in his NFL career.
Chris Johnson appears by be breaking off the rust with 110 yards rushing on 22 attempts (5.0 per), and added a pair of touchdowns himself along with a 30 yard scamper.
Tyrann 'Honey Badger' Mathieu was the star of the defense with not one but two interceptions for the Big Red. One of those was of the pick-six variety to the tune of 33 yards.
Justin Bethel set the tone of the day first with his own interception for a touchdown that covered 21 yards on his first defensive snap of the season.
Here's what the stats look like when matching up with the St. Louis Rams for next Sunday's game
Blue numbers are bad, white numbers are good, and the more arrows the better
Saying the stats heavily favor the Cardinals is quite an understatement and there are too many categories favoring the Big Red to go into detail. The category of most interest is the Cardinals league leading fewest sacks allowed (1), matched up against the Rams who are tied for the lead in sacking the opponent (13).
We'll see how that works out and meet you here next week.
* All team rankings were taken at press-time and are subject to change pending the results of the Chiefs/Packers Monday night matchup
For those interested in learning more about the relative values of statistical categories pertaining to victory before voting on the poll, click here