Before the Arizona Cardinals lost Carson Palmer to a season-ending knee injury Sunday, I was putting together a piece about two players the team could least afford to lose. In a bit of a surprise, Palmer was not one of them.
That is not to diminish Palmer's value to the team. He was playing well enough for Arizona to hand him a three-year contract extension worth as much as $50 million just last week.
The 8-1 Cardinals are 6-0 with Palmer in the lineup. He has conservatively been a top-10 quarterback since the middle of last season. But we've already seen Arizona go 2-1 with backup Drew Stanton in the lineup. And when the Cardinals needed Stanton to lead them from behind Sunday, he threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to rookie John Brown, part of a dominant fourth quarter as Arizona pulled away to win, 31-14.
How does Palmer's injury affect the Cardinals and the NFC playoff race? The first item in my 10 takeaways from Week 10 addresses that question, with special attention to what Cardinals coach Bruce Arians thought about Stanton before Palmer was even part of the equation in Arizona. Other takeaways cover the outlooks for Calvin Johnson, Brian Hoyer and Russell Wilson, plus a look at common threads in the NFC South's struggles.