Their 79 points are the most of any team in the NF

first_imgTheir 79 points are the most of any team in the NFL so far this season, as are their 11 touchdowns scored. Their +37 point differential also paces the league, with the next closest team — the New York Jets — being at +34.But of course, the Cardinals will at some point play a team with actual playoff aspirations, and at that point we’ll really start to learn how good they are. Until then, as Schatz notes, we don’t truly know everything there is to know about Bruce Arians’ team.There are still legitimate questions about the Cardinals on both sides of the ball. It has been a long time since we’ve seen Carson Palmer play a top defense. Because of injuries, he avoided Seattle, Detroit and Denver last year. The two defenses he has ripped up so far are probably the two worst defenses he’ll face all season. He’s certainly not going to go the whole year without being sacked. The Arizona defense has been strong for years, but it has lost a lot of talent at linebacker over the past couple of seasons. The pass rush has not excelled early, with just four sacks against two weak offenses that were forced to pass in the second half.The Arizona schedule will not be as hard as we expected before the season, especially if Seattle continues to have issues, but it is going to get a lot harder from here on out. Based on DAVE, a rating that combines our DVOA ratings with our preseason projections, Arizona has the seventh-toughest remaining schedule in the league.Asked to give a conclusion, Schatz wrote that the Cardinals are more “for real” than they all thought before the season, but also are probably not the best team in the NFC. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) high fives Jaron Brown after his touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 in Chicaqgo. (Steve Lundy/Daily Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT Everyone makes mistakes.Some, of course, are worse than others, but really, nobody’s perfect.And while two games is not exactly enough of a sample size to come to steadfast conclusions, the Arizona Cardinals’ performance in wins over the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears, making them one of nine teams with a 2-0 record, has led Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz to recant on his preseason prediction for the team. 0 Comments   Share   Back in August, he wrote the Cardinals would take a big step back in 2015. Actually, he wrote they would have the biggest regression of anyone.Now, though, his tune has changed a little.In an ESPN Insider piece meant to analyze which 2-0 teams are really contenders, he puts the Cardinals in the category of legit.In fact, he begins the segment on Arizona by mentioning how their site predicted a precipitous drop for the team, before following it with, “Oops.”Last year, despite their 11-5 record, the Cardinals ranked only 22nd in the Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. This year, the Cardinals are the No. 1 team through two weeks. Last year, the Cardinals built up their 11-5 record with close wins. This year, Arizona dominated New Orleans more than the 31-19 final score would otherwise indicate, then went to Chicago and brutalized the Bears by a final score of 48-23.According to DVOA, Arizona has been 85 percent better than average in its first two games, making it the best team through Week 2 since the 2007 Patriots. Except … that rating isn’t adjusted yet to account for Arizona’s opponents. Even when we thought Arizona was an average team before the season, these were still two games our simulations gave them a good chance to win. And while the Cardinals easily handled the Saints and Bears, so did Tampa Bay and Green Bay, respectively. New Orleans is a mess right now, and Chicago is worse. A dominating win over a bad team is often an indicator of a strong team, but not always. Ask yourself what we learned about Washington a year ago when it beat Jacksonville 41-10 in Week 2.True, the Cardinals’ first two opponents leave plenty to be desired. However, there is something to be said for beating the teams you “should” beat, and the way Arizona did it — with good defense, an improved running game and excellent play from QB Carson Palmer — are certainly positive signs for the team going forward. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories – / 44 The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

Go back to the enewsletter Sometimes a global trav

first_imgGo back to the enewsletterSometimes a global traveller seems to have all the luck. Exactly five weeks ago the super-luxury The Peninsula Chicago opened its brand-new Z Bar.After ten years’ planning, the Yabu Pushelberg indoor/outdoor movie set of a bar lounge opened on the air-space of what had previously been a fifth-floor terrace. Named for the hotel’s much-loved (and universally admired) GM, Maria Razumich-Zec, and thanks to the brilliant design, Z Bar was a hit from the start.Three opening parties saw the first appearance of sports stars and other influencers who are part of the will-be 30-strong Z Club, invitation only. Social media is already making sure some nights attract over 800 hipsters, of all ages.A debonair young Russia-born mixologist (sorry, ‘Director of Cocktails and Culture’) also helps. He, Vlad Novikov, has designed a leather-bound travel journal of a cocktail menu, wittily annotated. Order a $100 Manhattan Royale, as one to five do each night, and your handmade Richard Brendon crystal tumbler holds ice laced with 24-carat gold, over which is poured 18 year-old Elijah Craig Bourbon.Some other, less exclusive, drinks are offered one-tot or as ‘funday’ sizing – 1.5 litres, meant for sharing. Since Z Bar’s terrace has working fire pits and a big glass canopy over, this place will keep its momentum, or increase it, year round.But back in the real world, or the hotel’s fourth-floor lobby, things have evolved, too. Gold ceiling fixtures have given way to soft silver and crystal and lollipop-ended trees, while big flower arrangements, thoughtfully named, make it even more agreeable a dining venue. Chef Toni Robertson, whom I have known since the last century, heads a team that produces such dishes as the green pea soup that looks almost too good to eat. (Talking of food, I was really sorry not to return to the hotel’s sidewalk-set Pierrot Gourmet – it is walk-in only and during summer, especially, every table was packed every time I passed, admittedly walking by rather than walking in).A luxury hotel must think of everything, as big as bars and dining alternatives and as small as adding handbag-sized hand sanitizers to bathroom fittings. And the team uses its brain, continually. The Concierge team’s Keys to the City initiative offers such specials as VIP Suite interval access during Broadway-in-Chicago shows and exclusive shopping consultancy and gifts at Saks Fifth Avenue. Yes, these concierges can, it seems, do anything. Yet again I had an Apple software hiccup and Gary put me through to Apple Support on the phone – unfortunately the third Apple supporter I was connected to cut me off (bad mark, Apple).The hotel wins on everything: from the soft powder blue and cream corridors, to the exquisite bedroom decor with one wall an embroidered panel of a bee and massive chrysanthemum, Chicago’s flower; and the 24/7 gym with Power Plate, two Peloton stationary bikes and joggers’ televisions that work… and being able to get outside, on the 19th floor Olympic pool gym’s terrace, for some pre-breakfast breathing exercises. Now what WILL Maria Zec add next?But I could not wait. I wanted to move south, to Chicago’s Loop, with its theatres and bustle and noise. What looked like a small boutique hotel next to the Cadillac Palace theatre on West Randolph Street turned out to be a Big Surprise. Kimpton’s 19-floor Hotel Allegro is huge, with 483 rooms – admittedly bijou – while the public areas are dramatic. Go up the statement staircase to the second-floor lobby and you pass an assortment of nooks and crannies. There are so many areas to make your own, says Iris Junge, the Assistant General Manager who was in charge of the hotel that day.Local designers Lisa Simeone and Gina Deary, who also did the considerably more staid Waldorf Astoria Chicago, have added flourishes and swirls here at the Allegro – I love the lobby’s massive Saraj Rasleu’s woman’s head, adorned with real jewels.The hotel is connected internally to restaurant 312, on the corner of La Salle and West Randolph – but it is the lobby which is heart of the hotel, both during breakfast time’s complimentary beverages-only help-yourself bar, from 6am to 10am, according to the outstanding A4 information sheet in my room; and again from 5pm, for Kimpton’s signature hour-long hosted cocktail party.My night, prosecco and sangria were being poured into coupe and tulip glasses by the head housekeeper and the director of leisure sales. We love doing this, probably twice a month, they said – I realised this nightly cocktail is a joy to colleagues as well as guests.Iris and I later walked through to 312, a two-floor typical classic diner with fixed booths suited for size-0 models rather than sumos. Chef Luca Corazzina’s menu is real Italian, with such dishes as Ippglosso, roast halibut on cauliflower purée, and watercress, red onion and fava beans: your bill, by the way, comes in the very-American format of having suggested tips already included, for 18%, 20% and 22%. One extra, which was new to me, was also seeing on the bottom of the bill, ”Looking for a private event? Contact Carolyn Orlando #312 32 7118”. Clever.But there are so many clever memories of this hotel. Room 1012 was certainly compact, but the two scarlet-lined fitted cupboards had all I needed and a standing six-foot high mirror had a ledge for holding small things, plus two extremely useful hooks. Back after our enjoyable dinner, I found a tea kettle and an elegant tray with macaroons and all ingredients, and instructions, for making apricot-peach fruit tea, from scratch. What a typically thoughtful touch.I wonder what German immigrants Emil and Karl Eitel, who asked architect C.W. Ceolbapp to design this block in 1926, would think of this fascinating hotel today? When Kimpton bought it in 1998 it was the Bismarck, probably as sinkable a name as Titanic.The conviviality today is infectious: the lobby’s breakfast and cocktail socialising encourage conversation, as do both working out in the excellent Precor gym (24/7) and waiting for the elevators (‘which is going to come first’ becomes a guessing game when those in the groups that constitute around 60% of guests are all trying to go down, or up, at the same time).I want to return at a weekend, by the way, to see a Waggin’ Weekends cagnolino menu in action. Bring your pooch and choose a $4 treat, namely peanut butter biscuits or beeficle; or a $7 main of chicken with pasta, or salmon and white rice. Cleverly, they also offer upselling. Choose a treat and a main, for $9 total, and you save a couple of dollars. Iris Junge says this hotel is effortless luxury but honestly I would say Hotel Allegro is extremely thoughtful, with panache.Go back to the enewsletterlast_img read more