Cardinals need to maintain their road “intensity” in Philadelphia this weekend

12-18 punt return scrum

BY: ED COLE

TEMPE, Ariz. – The Cardinals can go to Philadelphia this Sunday night and do what no other team’s done in franchise history: Win a seventh game on the road in a season.

Arizona’s nearly unblemished away from University of Phoenix Stadium, with their only loss, 25-13, coming in Pittsburgh at the hands of the Steelers in Week 6.

As difficult as it is to win on the road in the NFL, head coach Bruce Arians says it would be an amazing accomplishment for the team to win seven out of eight on the road during the regular season.

“Close to perfect, and we should have won the other one (Steelers),” Arians said. “It speaks volumes for our team, how we’re built, to be able to win that many games on the road, especially with where we’ve been.”

This game at Lincoln Financial Field is a HUGE one for the Cardinals. Winning their seventh road game and setting a new team record would be a feat in itself. What’s also on the line is the NFC West title, and a potential first-round bye in the playoffs.

There’s a lot of different scenarios that can play out to give Arizona one, if not both, of them. Winning the West would be massive, because they haven’t been division champs since 2009.

“It’d be huge,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “This is a good football team (Eagles) we’re playing, and we get to play them on Sunday night. Last time we went there, we lost a heartbreaker (24-21 loss on 12/1/13) and we had a bad taste in our mouth from it. We have a chance to kind of redeem ourselves. All that extra stuff is extra stuff, but we’re not thinking about that kind of stuff. We’re so focused on just getting this win, and whatever comes with it, comes with it.”

Home teams in the NFL always come out with a high energy level before games, and they try their best to maintain and up that energy level as the game goes on. You can see it each and every time the Cardinals take the field at University of Phoenix Stadium. Part of the reason why they’re so good at home is because they feed off the home crowd and that boosts their excitement level to the maximum.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu says the reason why the Cardinals play so well on the road is because they always try to top the home team in terms of the energy they bring to the game.

“It’s just our intensity level, and not trying to start flat,” Mathieu said. “(In) a lot of our road games, we started slow, but we were able to get up out of it. It’s critical to start fast against this team (Eagles), and not let them get a jump start on us.”

Putting up points hasn’t been an issue for the Cardinals this season, especially on the road. You’d think with everything being against Arizona in an opposing team’s stadium, it would be harder to score, but it’s the complete opposite.

This is a team that’s scored an NFL-high, and franchise record 222 points on the road this season. The 27 touchdowns they’ve scored away from home are also tops in the league. Add these stats to those: Of the Cardinals six road wins this season, four of them have come by double-digits, and three have come by 20 or more points.

The true mark of a champion is when he/she constantly looks for ways to improve themselves in the particular sport they’re in.

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and the Cardinals are the epitome of that. They’re leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of perfection and a world championship this season.

The chase for that continues this weekend in Philadelphia.

“It’s (offense) been pretty good,” Goodwin said. “As coaches, we are searching for the ceiling. We’re capable. The thing we gotta do is do a better job of starting fast, which we do sometimes, and maintaining. Like I’ve been saying all year, there’s highs and lows. We’ve got to do a better job of being consistent, executing in all phases, and just being good.”

“I still say we’re searching for the ceiling,” Goodwin said. “We gotta do a better job of finishing drives. You go back to last week (vs. Vikings), we’re not sweating at the end if we score touchdowns instead of kicking field goals.”