An amazing start to the season has one big question mark lingering over it for the Arizona Cardinals... Can they get back healthy?
Against the San Francisco 49ers they were missing their top two cornerbacks and it showed, beating a resilient yet young 49ers squad.
Now they take on the Cleveland Browns, one of the AFC’s top teams, coming off an incredible game and road loss against the Los Angeles Chargers.
While the Browns are a bit beat up as well, they are one of the more complete teams in the NFL.
They have maybe the best rushing attack in the league and they present a unique opportunity to show where the Cardinals run defense really stands.
But, they are also an AFC opponent. Meaning that with the Cardinals beat up along the offensive line and in the secondary, this game means little.
Now, no one is suggesting the Cardinals tank, but the reality is if you are going to lose a game over the next several, this is the one. On the road, against a very good opponent, with a number of key starters hurt.
More than anything, the Cardinals need to view this game as important to see where their depth stands if Rodney Hudson, Marco Wilson and most importantly Byron Murphy Jr. are not healthy.
They need to go in and fight with the next man up mentality, knowing they have a weaker opponent awaiting them next week in the Houston Texans, before a massive matchup with another NFC contender, the Green Bay Packers.
The Cardinals need all their horses ready to go on Thursday Night Football against Aaron Rodgers and company.
They need to be as close to full strength by then as possible.
So, if those ailments for Murphy, Wilson and Hudson are still bothering them Sunday, maybe it is best if they sit that one out.
No one wants to lose, but when you look at the goal of the entire season, it is to win the Super Bowl... Not a week six matchup against an AFC opponent.
Play it smart, and make sure the stars are healthy heading into a big stretch from week eight through week 11 where the Cardinals play the Packers, 49ers, Panthers and Seahawks. A stretch that will define their season.