The Arizona Cardinals begin a string of three straight away games in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, but the road appears less daunting this season than in years past.
After the Denver Broncos’ 37-28 victory over the New York Jets Thursday night, the road teams have won 23 of the 49 games played so far this season. Additionally, 14 of those winners have scored at least 30 points.
Thursday night was also the 30th time this season that a winning team at home or away has scored at least 30 points and another 10 losing teams have reached the 30 mark.
The Cardinals reached that number in a Week 2's 30-15 win over Washington, but that’s the only time. However, the Cardinals have won their only road game this season, a Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks said he likes playing on the road when asked if this year is less daunting than previous seasons.
“It's funny,” he said. “I think that's a personal question for a lot of guys. I know for me, I always enjoy going on the road and feeling like my back's up against the wall. I have since high school. It's just been a something that I've fed off of. So, I don't necessarily think, to answer the question, that it's less daunting. The stakes are the same everywhere you go. You gotta be able to go out there and play well, (with) fans are no fans.”
However, the team’s offensive players feel differently.
“I would say the home-field advantage is definitely not the same,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “We went to San Francisco. That place is usually really tough. They have a loyal fan base, they're used to winning, they’ve had a lot of success and not having that added element makes it easy, especially as an offensive player in terms of the communication. The way we play with a lot of tempo, (quarterback) Kyler (Murray) can look out literally and just tell you what you have.
“You can check something and communicate very easily to your teammates. ‘I got this guy, you got this guy,’ or you can hear the defense communicating when they're talking, in and out or a bracket coverage; you can actually hear them talking to each other. OK, they're playing zone or playing man. You have a better understanding of what's going on just because you can hear everything and not hear the crowd distracting you. So it's a lot easier to play on the road thus far. We've only had one road game, but it definitely wasn't nearly as challenging as it has been the last 16 years.”
Left guard Justin Pugh said not having noise should help the offense.
He said, “I think it's huge for us. I think it gives your offense a very distinct advantage. If you look at the New Orleans Saints-Green Bay game on Sunday night. (Packers quarterback) Aaron Rodgers won that game with cadence at the end of the game. He drove them offside, threw a ball up, got pass interference and they scored on the next play. That doesn't happen if Green Bay is at home.
“Being able to utilize cadence and keep the defense on their heels is something that is huge for the offense and being an offensive player, I'll take every advantage I can get. It's something that we're definitely going to continue to use to our advantage.”