The Arizona Cardinals sit at 3-0 and lead the vaunted NFC West. The quarterback situation has gotten most of the headlines, but it's been Todd Bowles' defense that keyed the start.
The team's offseason losses to free agency and injury have been well documented. Thanks to some heady scheming by Bowles, those losses have been mitigated.
The unit also has the potential to get even better when safety Tyrann Mathieu kicks his play into a higher gear down the road.
Nine months removed from ACL surgery, Mathieu admits he's coming along slowly. He's had just a combined 20 plays the past two weeks.
Sunday against the 49ers, Mathieu had several first-half passes caught in front of him. Those were plays he would have broken up before the injury. The second-year safety said he hasn't yet cut loose.
"I thought I was playing a little lackadaisical in my technique," Mathieu said, per The Arizona Republic, "things I wouldn't normally do. I'm still a few weeks away from being the guy I want to be. That confidence is going to come, just with more playing time."
With the Cardinals on a bye this week, Mathieu hopes to rest up so he can play more aggressively in the future.
Think about it this way: Even if he takes until mid-November to get his feel for the game back, it will be in time for the crucial portion of Arizona's schedule. And a playmaking Mathieu allows the rest of the Cards' secondary to be more aggressive.
The 3-0 start has given Arizona the baton out in front. A fully healthy, ball-hawking Honey Badger could be the pivotal piece for the Cardinals to win the division.
The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps all of the Week 3 action and picks the top team in the AFC.