Tale Of The Tape: Arizona Cardinals At Tennessee Titans
- QuarterbackCarson Palmer bounced back from a tough loss in Philadelphia and was brilliant in the Cardinals Week 14 victory over the Rams as he completed 27-of-32 passes for 269 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Palmer is completing 64.3 percent of his passes this season and he has cut down on his interceptions after a rough start in that area.Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent backup quarterback, but that does not mean the Titans are going to win consistently with him in the lineup. Fitzpatrick has a fairly quick release and he can throw the short- and medium-range passes. He is also athletic enough to make plays on the run. However, he makes too many mistakes (eight interceptions and eight fumbles) and that often costs the Titans at key moments.
- OffenseRashard Mendenhall is an ordinary player and he is holding back the Cardinals. He is averaging 3.1 yards per carry, and that’s not good enough. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has built a great rapport with Palmer and he has caught 67 passes for 774 yards with 10 TDs. Michael Floyd is also a fine big-play maker who has 886 receiving yards and is averaging 15.8 yards per reception.The Titans have not gotten the kind of year they wanted from Chris Johnson. Instead of approaching 2,000 yards, Johnson has gained 820 yards and is averaging 3.8 yards per carry. If Johnson had been more consistent this year, it would make things much easier for Fitzpatrick. Kendall Wright is a dependable receiver who has caught 73 passes. Delanie Walker (concussion) may be able to return.
- DefenseThe Cardinals have been surprisingly strong on defense this season as they rank fifth overall and they are third against the run. Middle linebacker Karlos Dansby has a team-high 105 tackles and he also has 6.0 sacks. Outside linebacker John Abraham has been resurgent this year with 11.0 sacks. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu is gone for the year after tearing his ACL and LCL vs. the Rams.The Titans have been better than expected this year on defense and they rank ninth in passing yards allowed. Strong safety Bernard Pollard is the glue that holds this defense together. He leads the team with 81 tackles and he also has 11 passes defensed and three interceptions. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey leads the team with 9.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Cardinals are doing a solid job in their punt and kickoff coverage, but they have not gotten a lift this season from Patrick Peterson in the return game. The Cardinals have confidence in placekicker Jay Feely, who has made 22-of-26 FG attempts this season.The Titans’ coverage teams have done a very good job of keeping their opponents from breaking long plays, but they don’t have any players who appear capable of busting a long return of their own. Rob Bironas has been a dependable placekicker, but he has not had an attempt of 50 yards or longer.
The Cardinals seem to be the better team according to stats, but they struggle when they are on the road and the Titans are not going to come after Palmer and try to force him into making mistakes. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor