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Better Know the Enemy: Arizona Cardinals

A look ahead at this week's Jets foe

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    You know your season's a wreck when your quarterback situation is worse than the Jets.

    Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Jets' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Arizona Cardinals.

    Living in our neck of the woods can feel like living in a bubble in many different ways. 

    Political views, real estate prices and dozens of other things diverge greatly from the rest of the country and it makes it easy to imagine how life would be better or worse if you lived somewhere else. One of the bubbles this year is the one created by the Jets and it is one that makes it impossible to believe that football life could be worse anywhere else. 

    The bubble's getting burst this Sunday. The Cardinals are rolling into town and they are the rare team that makes the Jets look better in a side-by-side comparison. 

    Arizona started the year 4-0, but they've lost their last seven games to become the first team in history to pull off those two streaks in succession. There are plenty of flaws on the Cardinals team, from injuries to offensive line play, but it's hard to notice anything but the mess that Ken Whisenhunt has made of the quarterback position. 

    John Skelton won the starting job before Week One for reasons that were never particularly clear and then he got hurt in the fourth quarter of the opener. Kevin Kolb, who was given a massive contract after the team traded a second-round pick for him before last season despite a limited resume as a starter, took over and held the job until he went down with an injury of his own. 

    Skelton was back in charge and the Fordham grad continued to blaze a trail of mediocrity until Whisenhunt benched him with a two possession lead in the second quarter of a game against the Falcons. Rookie Ryan Lindley took over, the Cardinals blew the lead and then lost to the Rams (the same Rams who were blown out by the hapless Jets) as Lindley threw two pick-sixes and generally looked totally unprepared for life in the big leagues. 

    There's no word on who is starting this week as Kolb is getting close to full health, but the Cardinals' rotating band of underwhelming quarterbacks actually makes the Jets situation seem tenable. That's hard to do and it's a big reason why Whisenhunt might wind up paying for the handling of the position with his job. 

    The mess at quarterback has ruined the season for all the Cardinals, but these four guys have been hurt the most. 

    Larry Fitzgerald: The most remarkable thing about Fitzgerald is that he seems destined to go down as one of the greatest receivers in history while simultaneously serving as one of the great what might have been cases in history. Outside of a few years with Kurt Warner, Fitz has played with nothing but bad quarterbacks in his career while putting up great numbers that could be astronomical under better circumstances. 

    Patrick Peterson: One of 2011's best rookies, Peterson hasn't been quite as prolific this year as he was while returning four punts for touchdowns. He's still a dangerous returner, though, and shows enough skill at cornerback that Mark Sanchez would be wise to avoid him on Sunday.

    Daryl Washington: Washington got a contract extension before the season and he's lived up to it by putting up nine sacks as part of an impressive case for All-Pro recognition when the year comes to an end. He's the kind of player the Jets wish David Harris became after his own extension and the kind they'll need to get the defense back on track next season. 

    Calais Campbell: We're staying on defense and moving up to the line where Campbell anchors things at defensive end. He's a strong pass rusher, adept at knocking down balls and, like so many other Cardinals this season, fighting off injuries that have left him at less than full strength. 

    The game will come down to how well that defensive trio is able to make up for their offense's shortcomings. Perhaps the eighth time will turn out to be the charm. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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