XTRA910 audio: NFC West Week 5

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
7:34
PM ET
Thanks to XTRA Sports 910 AM for making available audio from our weekly NFC West conversation Friday.

We covered all four teams in the division.

The Arizona Cardinals' game at Minnesota gives quarterback Kevin Kolb one last chance before the bye to build momentum following a rough couple games. Pittsburgh and Baltimore await the Cardinals on the other side of the bye.

Kolb will be facing a Vikings defense that could be without top cornerback Antoine Winfield, who is battling a neck injury. Given Minnesota's strength against the run, Winfield's status provides yet another reason to expect the Cardinals to win or lose on Kolb's performance.

I'm also interested in seeing how the Cardinals' secondary fares.



As the chart shows, Arizona's pass defense has held up well in the middle of the field, specifically between the yard-line numbers. But outside the numbers, Arizona's pass defense ranks 31st in completion percentage, last in yards per attempt, last in yards allowed, tied for 31st in touchdown-to-interception differential and last in Total QBR, according to Doug Clawson of ESPN Stats & Information.

This reflects poorly on the Cardinals' cornerbacks and potentially on coordination between corners and safeties. One breakdown in the secondary can be all an opposing offense needs to strike for a big play. In contrast, one mistake by a receiver generally isn't as costly because a quarterback has more than one target from which to choose.

The Vikings' Donovan McNabb has completed only 48 percent of his passes on the perimeter, with a 47.8 QBR and 69.8 NFL rating. That's an indication the Cardinals might be less vulnerable outside the numbers in this game than they were against the New York Giants' Eli Manning, who entered Week 4 having completed 27 of 48 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns (89.6 QBR, 99.8 NFL rating) on those throws.

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