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Comparing the 2012 and 2013 Arizona Cardinals through eight games: By the numbers

Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrates his interception with teammate Patrick Peterson during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 27-13. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

With a 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals officially reached the midway point in their 2013 season.

While their 4-4 record is identical to the one posted through the first eight games of 2012, this year's squad seems to have popular opinion on its side.

Call it the product of a timely victory rather than having to sport a four-game losing streak going into the second half of the campaign, but the perception surrounding Bruce Arians' teams feels much different than the one that enveloped Ken Whisenhunt and Co. as the calendar flipped to November.

How different are the 2012 and 2013 Cardinals through eight games? Here's a look back at both teams' first halves by the numbers.

Divisional Success:

2012 - The Cardinals won their season opener in comeback fashion against the Seattle Seahawks 20-16, however they failed to score even one touchdown in two national television contests against the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Through eight games, Arizona was 1-2 against NFC West foes.

2013 - Arizona's best chance to win a game within the division came in the season opener. Up by 11 in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals looked primed to snatch a road victory in St. Louis. Instead, the offense sputtered late, and Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein knocked in a game-winning 48-yard field goal with 40 seconds to play. The 27-24 loss was the Cardinals' first of three within the division. Double-digit defeats to the 49ers and Seahawks have served as the collective low point for the team in 2013. After eight games, Arizona sits at 0-3 against NFC West foes.

Quarterback Play:

2012 - Both Kevin Kolb (five starts) and John Skelton (three starts) appeared behind center for Arizona through its first eight games. While the overall season totals at the position were poor at best for the Cardinals, the first half numbers were less indicative of things to come. Kolb and Skelton combined to complete 58.5 percent of their passes, while throwing for 1,915 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.

2013 - Carson Palmer was believed to be a major upgrade from the QB carousel that featured Kolb and Skelton a season ago. That hasn't quite been the case through eight games. The former Pro Bowler has completed 61.3 percent of his passes but has thrown for fewer yards (1,913) and more interceptions (14). He does, however, have one more touchdown pass (10).

Pass Protection:

2012 - The loss of Levi Brown (torn triceps) in the preseason forced D'Anthony Batiste into action. Combine that with the other tackle spot being taken up by rookie Bobby Massie, and it was a recipe for disaster. Through eight games, Kolb and Skelton were sacked a league-high 39 times.

2013 - Eight weeks in, the Cardinals again find themselves without Brown. However this time it's not due to injury. The former No. 5 overall pick's return to the line didn't go swimmingly, and he was promptly traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in early October. In his place, second-year tackle Bradley Sowell has had his fair share of struggles. With that said, Palmer has only been sacked 23 times.

Ground Game:

2012 - Injuries to Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams really took its toll on the Cardinals' depth at running back. From Week 1 to Week 8, Arizona had four different leading rushers and combined for 532 yards on the ground.

2013 - Steve Keim made it a priority to revamp the team's RB corps in the offseason with the free agent acquisition of Rashard Mendenhall and the draft selections of Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor. While the former hasn't exactly rounded into form in 2013, the latter have both been pleasant surprises. As a team, Arizona has run for 745 yards.

Defensive Prowess:

2012 - Ray Horton came into his own as a defensive coordinator last season and along the way gained a lot of fans in the Valley. Horton's unit dominated the likes of Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Mike Vick en route to impressive early season victories. Through eight games, Arizona allowed 17.75 points per game.

2013 - Bruce Arians' decision to tap Todd Bowles as the Cardinals' new defensive coordinator was met with mild skepticism last spring. But even without the absence of Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Washington for the team's first four games, Bowles has acquitted himself nicely. While the Cardinals are allowing slightly more points per game (21.8) this season, they lead the NFC with 12 interceptions and are fifth in the NFL in rush defense (88.3 yards per game). Also in Arizona's four wins, the defense has allowed just seven second half points.

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