3 Things for the Saints to win
1. Get your hands on Carson Palmer. Head coach Bruce Arians and the Cardinals love to take deep shots down the field. Problem is the Cardinals’ offensive line struggles to protect the QB so your front four needs to get to Palmer limiting his ability to beat you with his arm. Cameron Jordan and company need to be relentless in order for the Saints defense to have a chance covering John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and the rest of the speedy receiver group the Cardinals possess.
2. Tote the rock. The New Orleans Saints went through a major change to their offense personnel this offseason losing receiving threats Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills and acquiring offensive linemen Max Unger and Andrus Peat. Therefore you need to feed your talented ball carrier Mark Ingram. And when I say feed I’m talking at least 25 carries. Sean Payton and Drew Brees cannot get pass happy against a Cardinals defense that loves to apply pressure.
3. Protect Brees and take your shots downfield. This is something that you don’t have to tell a Drew Brees’ offense as the Saints always make a concerted effort to stretch the field. But going up against the blitz happy Cardinals defense their will be opportunities for Brandin Cooks to get free down the field but they must protect up front.
3 Things for the Cardinals to win
1. Keep Carson clean in the pocket. The Cardinals are a very different team when Palmer is healthy and running the offense. Deep threats Brown, Floyd, and J.J. Nelson can thrive in Arians’ vertical offense but the key will be up front. If Palmer has time he will tear up a subpar Saints defense who will be without arguably their best corner Keenan Lewis.
2. Convert third downs. The best solution for teams to beat Brees and the Saints in the past was to keep them off the field. Therefore controlling the time of possession by converting third downs and staying on the field offensively will go a long way in coming away with a win. Staying ahead of the chains on first and second downs setting up third and short will be key.
3. Don’t let Brandin Cooks beat you. Some might not know it yet but Cooks is the guy in New Orleans. He is the only legitimate big play weapon on the Saints offense and if the Cardinals were smart they would shadow him with lock down cornerback Patrick Peterson. Once the defense takes away Brees’ number one option it will be tough sledding for the offense.
What to watch for…
Which QB has the most time in the pocket. Harassing the opposing QB will be big in this game as both QBs like to stand in the pocket and beat you with their arm. Make life difficult for the signal callers and their team will suffer.
The Front office says…
Headley and Juice – Arizona Cardinals win.
Strud – New Orleans Saints win.