The winner of Sunday's game between the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could turn a horrible start into some positive momentum heading into the second quarter of the 2013 season.
The losing team will fall further into the pit of despair, making a playoff run all but impossible.
Arizona lost badly to the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 to fall to 1-2 on the season. Carson Palmer has struggled with turnovers, throwing four interceptions, and the team still can't find a running game after finishing last year with the worst rushing attack in the league.
The Bucs appear to be headed off a cliff to start Greg Schiano's second year at the helm.
After opening with three straight losses, Tampa Bay has benched Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon from North Carolina State, as noted by ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Bucs have made the move: Benching Josh Freeman for Mike Glennon, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 25, 2013
Freeman hasn't been good, converting just 45.7 percent of his passes while throwing three interceptions, but this is still a drastic move that could backfire in a bad way.
Fantasy football owners who have running back Doug Martin will likely benefit from this move, as the Buccaneers will need to pound the rock to protect the young quarterback from making rookie mistakes.
Here's what you need to know about this upcoming Cardinals-Buccaneers clash.
When: Sunday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 40.5 pts.
- Spread: Tampa Bay (-2.5)
Cardinals Injury Report (via AZCardinals.com)
|Williams, Dan||DT||Non-injury related||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
Buccaneers Injury Report (via NFL.com)
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Gerald McCoy||DT||Ankle||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Mike Williams||WR||Hamstring||Limited Participation in Practice||Questionable|
|Vincent Jackson||WR||Ribs||Limited Participation in Practice||Questionable|
|Mark Barron||S||Hamstring||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Gabe Carimi||G||Illness||Did Not Participate In Practice||Out|
|Derek Landri||DT||Knee||Did Not Participate In Practice||Out|
|Tom Crabtree||TE||Ankle||Did Not Participate In Practice||Out|
|Gary Gibson||DT||Back||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Rashaan Melvin||CB||Hamstring||Limited Participation in Practice||Questionable|
|Michael Adams||CB||Knee||Out (Definitely Will Not Play)||Out|
What Can We Expect from Glennon?
Buccaneers fans hoping for a revival under Glennon are likely to be disappointed.
The rookie signal-caller wasn't impressive during preseason games, completing 47.1 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Glennon wasn't an accurate passer in college either, and he struggled with turnovers. In his senior season, he completed 58.5 percent of his passes with 31 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
The rookie's best trait as a passer is his strong, live arm. He can stretch defenses vertically with the best of them, but he may not make the best decisions when he does.
Arizona's defense has allowed 297 passing yards per game this year, so it's clear the secondary is exploitable. That said, nobody should be surprised if Glennon struggles Sunday.
The Buccaneers will try to ride Doug Martin to victory Sunday. After a tough first outing in Week 1, Martin played well in his next two games, rushing for 232 yards and a touchdown.
But the Cardinals have been stellar against the run this year, allowing just 73.3 yards per game. It's worth noting, however, that the three teams Arizona has faced thus far all feature offenses that don't run the ball well.
Which team will win?
Martin will find success against Arizona's defense, but rookie quarterback Glennon will struggle.
Contrarily, Carson Palmer will bounce back from two straight poor outings against Tampa Bay's improved—but still flawed—secondary. Larry Fitzgerald is returning to full health after a hamstring held him back for a couple of weeks, and he'll make a few big plays Sunday to change the course of the game.
Cardinals win 24-14
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