Coming into its third game of the season, the undefeated Arizona Cardinals look to stay atop the NFC West.
In their way, the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.
But the Jags were not the only obstacle to overcome on Sunday morning, as the Cardinals found themselves playing a mental mind game against themselves.
Not one analyst or sports expert had the Jaguars winning this game, and it’s hard to get on the field and actually do what’s expected.
Im sure in the minds of the Cards players were the thoughts of “what if we lose to a team on a 17 game losing streak” and in the first half they played like they had being upset on their minds.
The Jaguars came in with nothing to lose and seemed to have had a good game plan to slow down the Cardinals offense.
The game plan almost worked, as the Jags forced the high flying Cardinals offense to one and nine on third down.
They got the Cardinals offense off the field throughout the first half, also winning the rushing battle 159 to 91 dominating the Cards defense early in the third quarter.
This game had all the makings of an upset, but the Cardinals defense was patient enough to work through the adversity and wait for that moment in the game where the Jags beat themselves.
The Jaguars took the momentum on a historical play before the half, a 109 return for a touchdown off a missed 68 yard attempt by Cardinals kicker Matt Prader.
Last week the 37 year old kicker made a 62 yard field goal, and that attempt look like it could have been good from 70.
So Coach Kliff Kingsbury rolled the dice, and tried to gain some momentum before the half and it back-fired.
All things pointing to a Jags upset as they took the lead 19-10 in the third quarter.
Then the game changed as the defense forced rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence into a forced pass on a flea-flicker attempt.
Byron Murphy was in position picking off his second on the day, and this one went to the house to give the Cardinals the lead.
They would not look back after scoring 21 unanswered points to get their third win of the season on the road, and remain undefeated.
The battle was hard fought on the field, and also hard fought in the mental of the Cardinals players and coaches.
When you’re the heavy favored team, the mental hurdle of how much better you are than your opponent can be the toughest battle to overcome.
Mentally weak teams lose those types of games, and the Cardinals have been that mentally weak team in the past. But seems to have grown a little stronger after overcoming the momentum snowball from the Jags on Sunday.
Winning a game in this fashion, can catapult the Cardinals to the next level of confidence that they are indeed a good team.
The NFC West is looking like it will be a gauntlet all season, and wins on the road out of division helps keep pace with the other three teams that look to be playoff teams early in the season.
Next week the RedBirds start play against the division.
The Los Angeles Rams look to be the clear front runners so far, as the Cards have had their problems containing that high powered offense and strong defense.
The third straight week this Arizona offense has put up 400 plus yards of offense, being able to do this week-in and week-out will always give you a chance to beat any team in this league.
Who the Cardinals are as a team is still yet to be determined, but for what we have seen so far we know that this offense is not at all the air-raid that everyone expected to see.
The balance between run and pass has been very NFL like, and that can be a recipe to being a playoff team down the line.
Long way to go with a tough part of the schedule ahead, and strengthening your mental winning games like this can only help make a stronger team going forward.