Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have stressed over and over how they have to handle their first game after the bye much better than they did a season ago. That is a given. There is no question the Cardinals were simply not competitive against the Rams last season, which is essentially what Kingsbury has pointed to -- less the result itself than the way the game played out.
Because the Cardinals have have mixed results following the bye, with the win and the loss usually coming down to the better team in the matchup winning -- simple as that.
Over the last decade, spanning four head coaches (and obviously, no true pattern to find because of it), the Cardinals are 4-6 after the bye. Of those games, there really were no upsets. The closest was actually the Cardinals nearly knocking off a superior Falcons team in Atlanta in 2012, a game the Cards somehow lost despite forcing six Falcons turnovers. But at the end of the Ken Whisenhunt era, those teams struggled in 2010-12. The Bruce Arians team was good in 2014, but that Broncos team with Peyton Manning was better, and the Cards had to play both Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas at quarterback that day. Rookie Josh Rosen and the Cards actually gave the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes a game in 2018 before succumbing.
Last year the game should have been closer, but the Rams were the defending NFC champs, after all.
All this points to the reality that the Cardinals really should be able to find a way, at home, to beat the Dolphins this weekend. Miami isn't a pushover, but they have a rookie quarterback and are traveling cross country. The Cards are more focused, in no small part because COVID has forced them to be.
|2018||at Chiefs||L, 26-14|
|2017||at 49ers||W, 20-10|
|2015||at Seahawks||W, 39-32|
|2014||at Broncos||L, 41-20|
|2012||at Falcons||L, 23-19|
|2010||at Seahawks||L, 22-10|