5 Unanswered Questions for the Arizona Cardinals After Week 1
The Arizona Cardinals clawed out a 20-16 win over Seattle in Week 1, but they will face a much tougher New England Patriots squad in Week 2. New England thumped Tennessee 34-13 in their first regular-season game.
Arizona will be put to the task against a team with superior talent. The Patriots hurry-up offense will pose a unique challenge for the defense. The Cardinals running game looks to get on track against a stingy New England defense.
Arizona hasn't fared well on the road in the last two seasons and was clocked 47-7 in their last visit to New England.
Can the Cardinals keep it close and try to pull off an upset, or will they get run over by the freight train known as the Patriots offense?
Read on to find out the answer to that and a few other questions that linger after Week 1.
How Long Will John Skelton Be out of the Lineup?
Quarterback John Skelton was taken off the field on a cart in the middle of the fourth quarter of the win over Seattle with an ankle injury.
At first, it was thought to be the dreaded high-ankle sprain, but then it was re-evaluated to a traditional ankle sprain. Skelton was initially thought to be out four to six weeks, but it was then reduced to one to two weeks with the sprain.
Even when he gets back to health, Kolb might shine and relegate Skelton to the bench.
Will the Cardinals Get a Ground Game Going?
During the first week of the season, Arizona's leading rusher was not a running back.
Wide receiver Andre Roberts led the team with a 15-yard carry and that won't cut the proverbial mustard in the NFL. Neither Ryan Williams nor Beanie Wells were able to amass more than 15 yards on the ground against the Seahawks defense.
The offensive line did a good job keeping Skelton and Kolb upright against Seattle as they allowed just one sack in the entire game. The question remains, can they create the openings they need to have a productive running game?
New England limited Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson to four yards on 11 carries last week. Johnson caught a team-high six passes for 47 yards. Arizona might need to look to get its running backs involved in the passing game to try and keep the Patriots guessing.
They are going to need it against New England's defense to keep their high-octane offense on the sidelines as much as possible in order to try to steal a win over the defending AFC Champions.
How Will Kevin Kolb Perform?
Kevin Kolb will get the start Sunday afternoon against New England. Kolb needs to be ready, as the Cardinals will have the tall task of trying to keep up with the Patriots offense.
Including last season's playoff run, New England has failed to score at least 21 points only once in its last 10 games. Over their last 10 games, Arizona has not scored more than 23 points in any game.
This puts a great amount of pressure on Kolb, since the Cardinals know that they have to put up big numbers in order to have a chance in the game.
With Larry Fitzgerald drawing the Patriots coverage, will Kolb be able to go through his progressions and find the second and third options before the rush gets to him? Will he stick with a dink-and-dunk passing game, or will we see more vertical throws from Kolb?
The answers to those two questions alone will go a long way in determining Arizona's fate.
How Will the Cardinals Perform on the Road?
It's no secret that the elite teams in the NFL know how to win on the road as well as at home. Arizona hasn't figured out the secrets to success of winning on the road yet.
When Arizona dons the white uniforms, they might as well be raising the white flag. Last season, Arizona won just two of eight road games. Neither win was by more than four points. The Cardinals are 3-13 on the road in the last two seasons.
This is also Arizona's lone road game in the first month of the season, so they will have to learn how to be successful on the road quickly. The Cardinals have a stretch of six road games in a nine-game span, and Sunday's contest at New England will be a huge measuring stick to the team's mental preparedness for road games.
What Can the Cardinals Learn from the Patriots?
The Cardinals will have to take a lot out of this game and use it to improve their team. This game will push them to the limit possibly more than any other game this season.
New England looks to be the most complete team Arizona will face all season. It's critical that Arizona studies this game tape hard to find out what works on offense and how the Patriots expose them on defense.
Arizona will also be exposed to the hurry-up offense right out of the gate, and it will force the Cardinals defense to step up and adapt to the go-go pace of New England.
Can the Cardinals Compete with New England?
The short answer is no.
New England has too much firepower in the passing game, and Tom Brady has weapons galore to choose from. Whether it's Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots passing attack will keep the Cardinals guessing all day.
New England running back Stevan Ridley racked up 125 yards rushing in the opener against the Titans, and he will give the Arizona defense another threat to try and slow down.
Even the Patriots defense got into the act last week when they sacked Titans quarterback Jake Locker, forced a fumble and ran it back seven yards for a touchdown.
Whether it's the run game, the passing attack or the defense, the Patriots look to have the advantage across the board.
New England is favored by two touchdowns, and it's easy to see why.
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