Bounce Back Theory: Cardinals Presented Good Evidence for “Blowout” Theory
Charles Jay, exclusive to

(Note: This article pertains to Week 15 of the NFL season but is being archived as an example of how a team can use a blowout loss as motivation to come back strong the next week.)

Do you remember what we said a few weeks ago in this space about teams that were blown out in their last game?

“DO NOT write off a team that stunk out the joint in its last game.”

That was never more true than it was this past weekend when the Arizona Cardinals took the field against the Detroit Lions. Of course we know what happened to the Cardinals in their previous game – they turned the ball over eight times, split between four fumbles and four interceptions, and they had just ten first downs on the whole day, while being outgained by a 493-154 margin. You could go on and on, but the point is that they got behind very early against the Seattle Seahawks, gave up, and were embarrassed to the tune of 58-0.

Calls were made for the head of coach Ken Whisenhunt. The quarterback situation got even murkier, as John Skelton, the starter, was picked off four times, Kevin Kolb was scratched for the year, and rookie Ryan Lindley, with no TD’s and five interceptions in his brief stint, was announced as the starter for the Detroit game. The Cardinals came into the game as the NFL’s worst offense in almost all categories, including yards per drive (20.6) and points per drive (1.08). They had scored 95 points over a nine-game losing streak and were the only team in the league that had to punt on more than half its possessions.

Naturally, coming off that humiliating loss the public was going to be down on them, and indeed they were. AtBetAnySportsthey carry different lines at different prices, but at the point we got a look the Cards were seven-point underdogs at University of Phoenix Stadium against Matthew Stafford, who passed for over 5000 yards last year and had 4000 this season – in other words, he produced something – and Calvin Johnson, the All-Pro receiver with 1546 yards in the bank.

Fundamentally, there were plenty of reasons not to go with the Cardinals
in this game, and everyone knew that. But what was conveniently ignored
by a lot of people was that Detroit was the team that had a psychological
disadvantage of sorts and was about to be victimized by the bounce back

That’s right. This is pro football, and these players, by definition, are pros. They have pride, and they are going to bounce back emotionally from a humiliation of this nature. The Seattle game was the kind of result that didn’t inspire them so much as it made them angry. Meanwhile, Detroit was a team that had more reasons to be emotionally deflated, as they had not only lost five straight games, but dropped the last three after blowing double-digit leads, which transformed them from a 2011 playoff team that still had a chance at a wild card spot to a team that fell out of the running entirely.

So really, which team stood to be more “up” for this game?

Add to that some interesting figures, which reveal that Arizona possessed at least one characteristic that a live home dog must have. On defense, the Cardinals show up strongly when it comes to the all-important drive stats. In fact, this team was among the top six teams in the NFL when it came to yards allowed per drive, points allowed per drive, touchdowns allowed per drive and turnovers caused per drive, which is all the more remarkable considering that the stop unit was continuously in the hole because of poor offense. In addition, Arizona yielded just 55% pass completions and had 17 interceptions, which was going to likely make it more difficult than usual on Stafford.

So what happens on Sunday afternoon? Well, Johnson wasn’t shut down by the Cards, but the rest of the Lions’ receiving corps was. The Megatron had 121 yards, but the remaining pass catchers gained 125 yards. Stafford was 24 for 50, with less than five yards an attempt, and was intercepted three times, with two of those being returned all the way back for touchdowns in a 38-10 Arizona victory.

Lindley did not exactly shine; in fact, he had 104 yards on 21 attempts. The team was outgained by a 312-196 margin, and converted just two of 12 third downs. So the offense wasn’t so far out of character in this ballgame. But Detroit, which IS deflated, was out of sync, and a lot of that had to do with the Cards’ defense, which most definitely came to play, and covered easily for underdog bettors atBetAnySports.

Whenever you have a game like we did last week, everybody is challenged because you were embarrassed. I think they responded well today,” said Whisenhunt.

They must have been pretty angry, as they should have been.

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