It has been an up and down half of a season for the Arizona Cardinals.
They have lost two of their three best offensive players, had a large regression on the defensive side of the ball and swung a deal for an older running back.
Through all of that, they sit at 3-4 on the season with a chance to pull to 0.500 against one of the two worst teams in the NFL.
That’s what makes this season so hard to figure out and digest.
Moreover, the question of why are the Cardinals 3-4 is a tougher one to answer.
Which singular player defines the Cardinals 3-4 start, who is their MVP?
That question, for the first seven games only has one answer in my mind… Carson Palmer.
While Palmer was at the heart of the problems for the Cardinals the first two games, no player has done more to put the team on his shoulders and carry a below average football team to an average record through seven games.
The Cardinals offensively are a shell of their 2015 self, and even their late surge in 2016 looked far away.
A horrendous offensive line, inconsistent receivers (outside of Larry Fitzgerald) and a historically bad running game all could have allowed Palmer to continue to coast, make it through the season and put up meaningless, empty numbers.
Yet, for six games he found a way to put the team on his back and push forward.
No, he wasn’t as statistically good as 2014 or 2015, but that’s what made the six games and change Palmer played so impressive.
He was working with a whole lot of nothing on offense, and having to do it while his defense was giving up 27.3 points per game, third most in the NFL.
Their expected win/loss record from a statistical standpoint through this part of the season is 1-6. Having the Cardinals at 3-4 is really phenomenal work by Palmer.
Palmer was on pace for: 375 completions on 610 attempts for a 61.4% completion rate, 4,521 yards, 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Those are not great stats, but they are a great example of what Palmer was doing, despite having basically Larry Fitzgerald to work with.
Who is the second half MVP?
Who knows. I’d expect Chandler Jones to continue to put up great numbers, he has been playing at an All-Pro level, along with Patrick Peterson.
Can Adrian Peterson turn back the clock?
Can Larry Fitzgerald stay on pace for 102 catches for 1,129 yards and seven touchdowns?
We will see, but if the Cardinals fall flat in their final nine games, it will be because they lost their MVP from the first half of the season.