It's not that the Cardinals are just a bad football team… Secretly, I think, they are one of the worst teams in the NFL. How they won this game I have no idea. The Colts pushed the Cardinals around for at least 60–70% of this game. The Colts jumped out 10–0 and Arizona was lucky it wasn't worse than that. The Colts played with passion while Arizona did its usual…nothing/sleepwalking – Bruce Arians has sucked all the life from this unit.
I thought Arizona would use a fractured, injured Colts team starting a new quarterback to temporarily right its ship with an easy win that would con them into thinking they were pretty good. The Colts came out from the opening whistle and punched them right in the mouth. Then the Colts tried to sit on the lead and got caught napping in the end.
The Colts are not as bad as advertised – but they're still not very good. Arizona is worse than everyone thinks, and people are now starting to believe they're not that good. I could not love a bet any more than Dallas at Arizona this week with people crying about Dallas while still showing Arizona some respect. If Dallas is the team I think they are, as well as Arizona is who we thought – the Cowboys will crush the Cardinals this week.
The Colts are not the worst team in the NFL, so I'd be cautious of thinking the Cleveland Browns are a delightful road favorite against them this week.
Fantasy player notes…
-- Probably the most impressive thing I witnessed in this game was how well Jacoby Brissett (20-37 for 216 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) played for a guy getting his first start on a not great team. Brissett played with confidence. He threw passes on a frozen rope. He did a few dumb things, but he was mostly in control of the situation. He can make some things happen with his feet and has a pretty nice arm. His pure passer instincts are not good enough to be a franchise quarterback, but he can hold down the fort as needed.
Brissett is going to face DeShone Kizer in a showdown of who's the worst team in the NFL – and I can't say that I wouldn't rather put my money with Brissett versus the erratic Kizer.
Also, the loser of the Week 3 toilet bowl (CLE v IND) is still not worse than the New York Jets.
-- Brissett made heavy use of Jack Doyle (8-79-0/8) in this game, but I think two things pushed that…two things that were specific to this game and may not be foretelling of some special Brissett-Doyle connection.
(1) Arizona is lacking at linebacker so it was smart to attack them with the tight end, and Doyle is a solid hand.
(2) There was a lot of focus on T.Y. Hilton with Patrick Peterson looming -- so it was smart to not try to force the ball there too much.
In Week 3, the Brissett-Doyle connection piece of the Browns…a team with lesser corners but way better linebackers. If you're throwing a Hail Mary at tight end this week – I would shy away from Doyle…if this game/stat line grabbed your attention.
-- Arizona quite possibly has the worst offense in the NFL. Carson Palmer (19-36 for 332 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) is ahead of Eli Manning in the 'veteran quarterback's at the end of their rope/career'. Palmer looks like he doesn't even care – he knows this is his last season and when David Johnson went down any false hopes went down the tubes with him.
The Cardinals have a terrible offensive line plus injuries, so Palmer is always under duress and they also can't have a running game between the other/lesser RB talents and no blocking. I wouldn't get excited about Chris Johnson (11-44-0) as the workhorse for Arizona – he's not taking all the touches and he's working behind a terrible line…and he stinks.
I hold out hope that Kerwynn Williams (9-22-0) can take this backfield back over in the DJ-interim, but I'm not overly excited about it.
-- Marlon Mack (6 carries for -3 yards) had a bit of a regressive performance here. I thought a push might be coming just because of the sad situation the Colts find themselves in – but counterbalancing that is the fact that Mack has some limitations as a running back and isn't ready to be any type of workhorse, and I don't think he ever will be…as I have maintained since scouting him coming out of college.
-- I keep saying J.J. Nelson (5-120-1/7) is the only WR from Arizona I want to have for fantasy. He was our upside guy of the week last week – and he did have a TD catch, a fantastic catch at that. He also fell short of about two other scores. J.J. Nelson and Ted Ginn lead the league in near–miss TDs after two weeks of the season.
Why not Larry Fitzgerald (3-21-0/6)? It looks like it's about over for him – if he was working with Brady or Rodgers it would be one thing, but Carson Palmer is losing it fast and he can't deliver the ball in tight windows for Fitzgerald like he used to. And Fitzgerald's not getting any separation anymore.
Fitzgerald still matters because he has great hands and Palmer's going to lean on him, but the highs are not very high anymore and the lows are happening more and more frequently. He's probably a flex option at absolute best. Against better opponents, he probably goes on your bench. If Arizona/Fitzgerald cannot expose the Colts minus their best cornerback – I don't know what defenses they are going to expose.
-- IDP DB Matthias Farley (7 tackles) is averaging 8.5 tackles per game after two weeks...the Colts leader in tackles out of nowhere as a starting safety.
Snap Counts of Interest…
32 = Gore
28 = Turbin
11 = Mack
30 = Niklas
21 = Momah
30 = Andre Ellington
18 = Kerwynn
17 = CJ2K