Things Looking Up
The Arizona Cardinals aren't ready to celebrate their undefeated start because they're only two games into the season.
The statistics, however, indicate that the long-suffering franchise has reason to be optimistic.
After winning their first two games for the first time in 17 years, the Cardinals look to make it their first 3-0 start since 1974 as they visit the Washington Redskins on Sunday in the first of consecutive games on the East Coast.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Redskins -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Cardinals +3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Arizona opened the season with a 23-13 win at San Francisco, then dominated Miami in a 31-10 victory last Sunday. The Cardinals, though, insist they're not letting their early success go to their heads.
"We haven't played nobody," said running back Edgerrin James, referencing the fact that Arizona's first two opponents are a combined 7-29 since the beginning of last season. "We've got to keep doing it. A lot of teams are 2-0."
That may be the case, but the Cardinals have reached that mark for the first time since 1991. They haven't had a longer undefeated start since opening 7-0 in 1974, when the team was based in St. Louis.
Dating to last year, Arizona has won four in a row for the first time since Nov. 14-Dec. 5, 1999. The Cardinals' 54 points in the two games are the most to open the season since they scored 68 in 1985, while the 23 points allowed are the franchise's fewest to open a season since 1977.
Though it's been a good start to what could be their first winning season since 1998, the Cardinals aren't patting themselves on the back just yet.
"When people are talking about prosperity at 2-0, it almost makes me laugh," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "... Hopefully we have the mindset in here that this is where we expected ourselves to be, so why are you getting excited about something you expect?"
Warner completed 19 of 24 passes for 361 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions last week. Warner, a 37-year-old veteran who beat out third-year pro Matt Leinart for the starting job, had a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the third time in his career, tying Peyton Manning for the NFL record.
The two-time league MVP and Super Bowl XXIV champion is 96-for-145 for 1,227 yards, 10 TDs and two interceptions during Arizona's four-game winning streak.
"When you have one of those days when everything's clicking and you feel like you can't be stopped, it brings back a lot of memories of those great years," he said last Sunday.
Warner and the Cardinals put their streak on the line as they head east for two weeks. After playing in Washington on Sunday, they'll stay in the nearby suburbs and work out at Catholic University before visiting the New York Jets next Sunday.
"The one thing I know is it saves us a thousand miles of travel and it saves us 10 hours in an airplane, which to me is a big difference," said coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose team lost all three of its East Coast games last year, including 21-19 to the Redskins.
"We're trying to put this team in the best position that we feel can give us a chance to win. We feel like this does that for us, staying on the East Coast."
The Cardinals could have their work cut out for them as they meet the Redskins (1-1), who bounced back from an ugly 16-7 loss to the New York Giants in Week 1 with a 29-24 victory over New Orleans in their home opener last Sunday.
After looking uncomfortable while going 15-for-27 for 133 yards and one touchdown in his first game under rookie coach Jim Zorn, Jason Campbell was 24-for-36 for 321 yards and a TD in the win. He completed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss with 3:29 left for the winning score.
"We talked a lot during the week," Campbell said. "I said 'Coach, just trust me.' And he said, 'I've got to trust you more.' We do it together."
It was the first NFL win for Zorn, an assistant with Seattle for the last seven seasons.
"I don't really know how to act, but I am very excited," he said. "I wish I could enjoy it as much as I had to endure last week for four or five days, but I won't be able to."
Zorn hopes to get a second consecutive victory as Washington tries to continue its recent dominance of Arizona. The Redskins have won the last six games in the series, dating to a 16-15 road loss Nov. 5, 2000.
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