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A Game Of Expectations Not Met When Cardinals Face Broncos

Both teams will start backup quarterbacks on Sunday

Safety Budda Baker and the Cardinals want to salvage what is left of the 2022 season.
Safety Budda Baker and the Cardinals want to salvage what is left of the 2022 season.

When Markus Golden first looked at the 2022 schedule in May, the linebacker saw a tough one, if not the toughest in the league.

Golden embraced the challenge, hoping for another fast start and high win total. That hasn't been the case in a disappointing and frustrating year for the Cardinals (4-9) after carrying high expectations entering the campaign.

The Cardinals have four games left, starting with Sunday's matchup with the Denver Broncos (3-10). Now it's about playing for one thing.

"You play for your pride," Golden said. "You still got a job to do. Your name is still on the back of your jersey. You still have to get out there. We have to play for each other and understand that this is the NFL. You have to go out there and do your job no matter how the season goes."

Injuries have factored in the Cardinals' poor play. Quarterback Kyler Murray (torn ACL) and wide receiver Rondale Moore (groin) joined the season-ending injury reserve list earlier this week. Cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. continues to deal with a back injury, while defensive lineman Zach Allen recently underwent hand surgery.

Overall, the Cardinals have 77 different players getting playing time this season; only the Tennessee Titans (80) have had more.

"That's the NFL, it never shocks you," Golden said. "There's always a chance your best players get hurt any given Sunday or during the week of practicing. It's such a physical game. We just have to get back on the field and do our jobs. Nobody feels sorry for you, no matter what."

The Broncos entered the season in a similar boat as the Cardinals. They had high expectations after acquiring nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson last off season to complete an already talented offense.

But things went south. Wilson has struggled, looking nothing like the player he used to be in Seattle. His 60.4 percent completion percentage and 37.2 QBR are both career lows. It appears he's struggled to get on the same page with his wideouts or head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

However, their defense has been stout this season, allowing just 17.6 points per game, fourth-fewest in the league behind the San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys.

"We know we're dealing with a great front in Denver this week," quarterback Colt McCoy said. "You can't hold on to the ball long. We'll need to be precise in what we do."

Right tackle Kelvin Beachum has been on plenty of teams expected to succeed but instead underperformed during his ten seasons in the league. It's never been a fun situation to be in, but the experience comes in handy.

"It's an opportunity to show your professionalism and how much you care and love the game," Beachum said. "And put it on full display. At the end of the day, whatever film you put out there is who you are. How you approach these last couple of guys of the season is how you are.

"Things haven't gone our way, we haven't performed the way we wanted, and it's on us to right the ship."