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NFC West Report Week 6: Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals fought their way back into the NFC West hunt with a dominant win over the Jets.

NFL: New York Jets at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals have clawed their way back from a 1-3 start, and now look very much like the playoff contender many expected them to be. In close games this past week, the Seahawks won, and the Rams lost, setting up an enticing Sunday Night Football game between the Seahawks and Cardinals.

NFC West standings through Week 6.

Week 6 outcome: 28-3 win over the New York Jets (1-5)

The Cardinals thoroughly dominated the Jets, never looking back after a 58 yard David Johnson touchdown run on their first possession. Johnson went on to score twice more, giving him six touchdown runs in the last two weeks. The Cardinals O-Line was without both starting guards, and facing arguably the best three-man front in the NFL, but didn’t seem to suffer. The unit gave up no sacks, and produced 4.9 yards per carry in the run game. Carson Palmer played efficiently, spreading the ball around to multiple targets before leaving the game in the 4th quarter due to a hamstring sprain.

The real dominance came on the defensive side of the ball for Arizona, as they only allowed 33 rush yards, and forced struggling turnover machine Ryan Fitzpatrick to the bench. Geno Smith will be the Jets starter going forward, making this the second straight week that a team has made a quarterback change after facing the Cardinals. After a 10-6 finish in 2015, the Jets are in a serious tailspin this season. The Cardinals, though, are trending up in a major way.

Next up: Home vs Seattle Seahawks (4-1) on Sunday Night Football

It’s still very early in the season, but this game might prove decisive for the NFC West. A Cardinals win would put them half a game behind the Seahawks, and holding a better division record. If the Seahawks win, it may be time to pencil them in as the eventual NFC West Champs.

Both teams feature stellar defenses, that rank in the Top 10 in every significant statistical category. The Seahawks are the No. 1 overall defense in the NFL. The Cardinals rank 5th, but lead the NFL in takeaways. In a reversal of recent history, the Cardinals offense features one of the NFL’s most dominant run games, while the Seahawks have transitioned into a pass-driven offense. Seattle’s run game has struggled this season, and is near the bottom of the NFL in yards per attempt.

Biggest headlines:

Carson Palmer exited Sunday’s game with 8:20 left in the in 4th quarter. It was earlier reported that Palmer had a hamstring sprain, but Palmer is now calling it a leg cramp. There has been no official comment from the team.

The Cardinals were thin at guard against the Jets as Mike Iupati sat out Sunday, and they had already lost Evan Mathis for the season.

Larry Fitzgerald is showing little signs of slowing down with age. The 33 year old is on pace for close to 1,100 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns, which would tie his career high.