The Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints will welcome in the new NFL season this weekend in Canton, Ohio in the Hall of Fame Game.
New Orleans has been hammered all offseason long by suspensions stemming from the team's now infamous bounty scandal, while Arizona has had a quiet summer by comparison.
Both teams will be thrilled to get back on the field, and each will be looking to get its first preseason win of 2012.
Here's a rundown of everything you need to know before kickoff.
When: Sunday, August 5 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Fawcett Stadium, Canton, OH
Watch: NFL Network
Listen: WWL - 870 AM (New Orleans), KTAR 620 (Arizona)
Live Streaming: NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line: Saints (-3), according to Covers.com.
What's At Stake?
Although there's nothing ever truly at stake during a preseason matchup in the NFL, Sunday night's matchup in Canton will likely determine the futures of some borderline roster players on each side.
Undrafted free agents and practice players will need to showcase themselves nicely in order to prove to their respective coaching staffs that they can perform during the regular season.
Position battles and roster spots are certainly up for grabs, but if you're talking wins and losses, we're still a few weeks out until the games actually count.
Key Cardinals Injuries
*According to CBSSports
QB Kevin Kolb (thigh), probable for Sunday's matchup
Key Saints Injuries
*According to CBSSports
RB Mark Ingram (knee), probable for Sunday's matchup
Fantasy Prospect to Watch
Although Mark Ingram is coming back off a knee injury in 2012, fantasy owners should keep an eye out for him on Sunday night against Arizona. Ingram rushed for 474 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. The 22-year-old running back has tremendous strength and will receive plenty of touches in the Saints backfield as a guy who can move the chains and pick up extra yards after contact. Ingram could be a solid fantasy producer this coming season if healthy.
What They're Saying
A lot of the conversation surrounding Sunday's preseason opener between the Saints and Cardinals has centered on the officiating. CBS Sports' Will Brinson reported on Wednesday that the NFL would be using replacement officials in the 2012 Hall of Fame Game.
The NFL and its officials are currently disagreeing on what each side perceives to be fair compensation, and according to Brinson, the replacements will most likely consist of college referees at this point. Replacement referees were brought in to officiate an early regular season Rams-Eagles game back in 2001.
Cardinals Player to Watch
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be the player to watch for the Cardinals on Sunday night. Fitzgerald is one of the top playmakers in all of football, and made 80 receptions for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Fitzgerald was targeted 153 times in 2011, 55 times more than any other receiver on Arizona's roster last year.
Saints Player to Watch
NFL fans should be watching for Drew Brees on Sunday night. The former Super Bowl MVP just signed a Gulf-sized contract, and is coming off a season in which he shattered Dan Marino's passing yards record. Brees threw for 5,476 yards and 46 touchdowns last year, so I'm sure you won't want to miss No. 9's encore in 2012.
One would have to be crazy to think the Saints would ever try to establish a dominant rushing game. The key matchup in this contest is no doubt New Orleans' passing attack vs. Arizona's secondary.
Brees will be looking to heat up his arm in the early stages of the first quarter, and then the backups will come in trying to do the same.
Coaches are always trying to establish confidence early on in the season, and you can bet the Saints' staff will be looking to give their backup offensive players plenty of repetitions.
On the opposing side, the Cardinals will be looking for second-year player Patrick Peterson and his fellow secondary members to respond to the Saints' attack in the opening moments of the game.
Arizona only intercepted 10 passes as a defensive unit last season. Therefore, New Orleans will be an excellent test for this group on Sunday, to see just how much they've improved since 2011.
The preseason can be tricky at times, and that's why I always pick against the favorite in cases like this.
On paper, the Saints should win this game easily, but the fact that Brees and the starters will be chewing on popcorn by the second quarter leads me to believe that the Cardinals fringe players can get it done against the troubled Saints.
Cardinals 23, Saints 17
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