To me, the Washington Redskins-Arizona Cardinals game boils down to this: Can the Redskins slow down the Arizona triple threat of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin enough to be able to outscore the Cards?
Warner is off to a hot start, bringing back the echoes of 1999. If a team had just one receiver with the combination of size and speed that both Fitzgerald and Boldin bring to the field it would be something to worry about. The fact that both of them are on the field at the same time increases the difficulty exponentially.
The Cardinals' offense has been quite efficient since the trio started playing together. They have posted 20 points or more in their last 10 games and 30 or more in six of those. This year Arizona has scored 54 points in their 2-0 start.
That 2-0 start has come against two teams who were a combined 6-26 last year. While you only can beat who you've played, it is fair to say that the Cardinals haven't been tested this year.
The Redskins have been tested, facing the Super Bowl champs and a Saints team that is expected to contend for the playoffs. The results have been mixed.
The fact that Washington has faced tougher competition is one reason why I'm taking the Redskins in this tossup game. Another one is where the game is being played.
It's not so much that the Redskins get a tremendous home field advantage at FedEx Field. Wild enthusiasm is not always present and what sound is generated escapes into the atmosphere. It is the stadium's location in the Eastern time zone that favor's the Redskins.
The Cardinals have trouble playing on the East coast. Since 2001 they are 2-14 in games played the GMT -5 time zone. That's not a coincidence, that's a trend.
I also think that the Redskins will be able to limit the damage that Warner, Fitzgerald and Boldin inflict. Their trio of cornerbacks—Shawn Springs, Fred Smoot, and Carlos Rogers—are pretty good and add LaRon Landry into the mix and you'll have a pretty effective force that should contain the Arizona passing offense. Should Andre Carter and Jason Taylor start to get that bookend pass rushing thing going on, so much the better.
It would not shock me if Arizona won the game. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me in the least. But the time zone and the Washington DB's give a slight edge to the Redskins.
Redskins 24, Cardinals 21
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org