A weekly analysis of the Cardinals' quarterback play:
Rewind: For the first half against Tampa Bay, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer couldn’t move the ball. He got hit on the game’s first play. The Cardinals then went three-and-out in five of their seven drives in the first two quarters. But after halftime, Palmer settled down and began working through his progressions and not focusing in on one receiver. The Cardinals moved the ball until Palmer threw two interceptions to end potential scoring drives deep in Bucs' territory.
Well, I was pretty close to being dead on. I said last week if Palmer got hit, then a repeat of the New Orleans game would take place. Palmer got sacked on the opening play, and the first three-and-a-half quarters were a replay of the game in the Big Easy.
Fast-forward: If there’s one thing Palmer needs to know about the Panthers on defense, it’s that they’re coming up the middle. They’re ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game (seventh), rushing yards allowed per play (eighth), sacks per pass attempt (fifth), first downs allowed per game (sixth), fourth-down percentage (tied for first), red zone percentage (tied for second), goal-to-go percentage (seventh), points allowed per game (third) and point differential per game (sixth).
Under pressure: It’s the same with any quarterback: The more they get pressured, the less they play like themselves. Even coach Bruce Arians didn’t think Palmer had “happy feet” after getting hit on the game’s first play. But the stats show Palmer seems to back down when the defensive pressure rises. His passer rating was 16.5 when pressured compared to 80.8 when not pressured, according to Pro Football Focus. He was hit four times and pressured six.
Prediction: I might get out of the prediction business. The deep ball will be open for the Cardinals, who will need to spread the field to relieve some pressure up front. I’ll say 250 yards in front of the home crowd and one touchdown.