Quarterback Carson Palmer and head coach Brucei Arians were supposed to revive the Arizona Cardinals offense, and lift them up the NFC West.
But after four weeks, the 2-2 Cardinals are 17th in passing and 27th in rushing, and have scored a combined 20 points int their last two games. Arizona has also gone 6-for-23 on third down in that same stretch.
They’ll need a huge jolt of offense as the Carolina Panthers come to town Sunday at U of Phoenix Stadium. The Panthers are coming off a bye week, and completed the most lopsided 38-0 victory in franchise history two weeks ago over the New York Giants.
Carolina’s Cam Newton threw three touchdowns and ran for another, and DeAngelo Williams rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries. The Panthers are now third overall in rushing in the NFL, and Williams has been one of the hardest working players in the league with injuries to Jonathan Stewart and rookie Kenjon Barner.
But Barner is expected to make his NFL debut on Sunday, after missing the first three games with a sprained foot.
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More depth in the backfield is a luxury the Cardinals do not have. Veteran running back Rashard Mendenhall is averaging 3.4 yards a carry, and reserves Andre Ellington and Alfonso Smith haven’t fared much better off their 27 combined attempts.
On the flip side Arizona has the second best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 75 yards a game thanks to linebackers Karlos Dansby and Jasper Brinkley. However Brinkley is questionable with a groind injury for Sunday's game.
Forcing three turnovers, the Cardinals pulled out a 13-10 win last week over Tampa Bay. Palmer totaled 248 yards with one touchdown and a pick, with receiver Larry Fitzgerald hauling in six receptions for 58 yards and a score.
Coverage of the game starts at 4:05 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by FOX, or or watch a live online stream by purchasing NFL Game Access here.
Betting Odds: Carolina is favored by 2 points.
Over/Under: 42 points.
Prediction: Carolina 20, Arizona 13