A weekly analysis of the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback play.
Rewind: The last time we saw Carson Palmer during the preseason, his performance was chalked up to the “Oh-it’s-the-preseason-it-doesn’t-matter” line of thinking. He wasn’t nearly as sharp against the San Diego Chargers as he was with his nine snaps against the Green Bay Packers in the first preseason game. In Palmer’s defense, the whole offensive game plan wasn’t implemented -- the package for tight end Rob Housler wasn’t even used -- so the jury is out on what the 11th-year pro can do in Arizona coach Bruce Arians’ high-octane, high-yardage offense. But Palmer’s last regular-season action last Dec. 23 resulted in cracked ribs after just three completions.
Fast-forward: If history repeats itself, Palmer may have a field day beating the St. Louis Rams in the flat in Sunday's opener. The pass has become a staple of the Cardinals’ offense -- and the Rams struggled last year to defend the pass on either side. Arians also likes to go deep, with plans to test Palmer’s arm at least six times per game downfield. Against the Rams, that means Palmer could take advantage of rookie safety T.J. McDonald, but he’ll have to keep an eye on cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns against the Cards last season.
Wild card: Palmer hasn’t been successful in Week 1 throughout his career, accruing a 4-5 record. But he’s 3-3 on the road. Can he go into St. Louis with a new offense and new mindset, and leave with a winning record?
Prediction: If there’s one thing Palmer has been consistent with throughout his career, it’s putting up big numbers. He threw for 4,018 yards in 2012, his third 4,000-yard season. I say he’ll throw for at least 250 yards and three scores Sunday with targets like Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, a group of talent Palmer hasn’t played with … maybe ever.