New Orleans Saints vs. the Arizona Cardinals Game Preview

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New Orleans Saints vs. the Arizona Cardinals Game Preview
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints, coming off of a 16-14 win against the Carolina Panthers will travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals.  The Cardinals lost last week to the San Diego Chargers 41-10.  While the Cardinals don’t appear to be having a good season, they have won two games and are still a very viable threat.  Granted, they don’t have quarterback Kurt Warner at the helm any longer but this is still a dangerous and talented team.

The Saints need to find themselves again after playing four straight close games this season with one loss.  Last week fumbles almost cost them their game against the Panthers and they had to use some late game magic to get the lead from the Panthers and eventually win the game.  Hopefully the Saints will be able to start this game off fast and then use their running game to control the ball and the clock and not allow the Cardinals to keep it close.

The following is a full preview of the of the Saints game against the Cardinals this Sunday.

When the Saints have the Ball

Right now, it appears as if Pierre Thomas is not going to be available this Sunday.  He was out for the Saint’s game against the Panthers on Sunday and not having him in the lineup made a difference.  In his absence, the Saints had a difficult time running the ball and getting time off the clock.  Carolina’s defense knew that the Saints were going to drop back and pass as a result and so they were able to keep better containment on quarterback Drew Brees and the Saint’s passing game.

Can the Cardinals do the same thing to the Saints in their game this Sunday afternoon?  The Saints do have some decent talent on the defensive line and at linebacker including Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett and even safety Adrian Wilson.  As a team, the Cardinals defense has a total seven sacks so far this season.  They are getting to the quarterback and they can get to Drew Brees.

Everyone is aware of the fact that Brees is a little banged up right now and needs as much pass protection as he can possibly get.  The Cardinals have managed to get a total of seven sacks so far this season (seven players are tied with one sack a piece) so there may not be a lot to worry about in terms of sacks but you never know.

The Cardinals are giving up  an average of 233 yards per game through the air so the Saints should be able to take advantage of this and get some yards passing.  Look for Brees to put the ball in the air often to help move the team down the field, especially if their running game is stalled.

Speaking of the running game, the Cardinals are allowing teams and average of 154 yards per game on the ground so if the Saints are able to have Pierre Thomas back in the lineup then they should make an attempt to run the ball often.  If they can have some success doing that then they will be able to control the ball and win this game.

A lot of their success depends on who is running the football.  If Thomas is back then there shouldn’t be too much of a problem running the ball.  

When the Cardinals have the Ball

The Cardinals are going to go a different direction at quarterback this weekend and start rookie Max Hall.  Derek Anderson wasn’t doing much for them and they liked what they saw out of Hall in the preseason so they are going with Hall against the Saints at home this Sunday.

It’s not fair to judge the passing numbers that the Cardinals are putting up since there is a quarterback change so we won’t look at those numbers.  The Saints are allowing an average of 196 yards of passing per game to opponents and this is a pretty respectable number.  They do this using a strong secondary and what is starting to become a much better pass rush (so far they have a total of six sacks this season).  New Orleans secondary has been able to shut wide receivers down in the passing game and should be able to do it again this Sunday against the Cardinals.

With a rookie quarterback making the start, the Saints can expect that if they put some pressure on him (Hall) that he will make some mistakes which their secondary can take advantage of.  Remember that this secondary loves to take advantage of mistakes that the other team’s quarterback makes so look for them to be gaining some opportunities this Sunday against Arizona.

The Cardinals leading receiver so far this season is Larry Fitzgerald with 19 catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns.  The Saint secondary will seek to shut him down in this game and shouldn’t have too much of a problem doing it.  If they are successful shutting Fitzgerald down then that leaves the Cardinals with very little talent at the position (behind Fitzgerald).  Once again, this works out in the Saints favor.

Through four games this season, the Cardinals are averaging a total of 99 yards per game rushing.  Their leading rusher is Tim Hightower who has 42 rushes for 233 yards and two touchdowns.  If the Saints can keep Hightower from helping his team extended drive and give the offense the ball back then this game should be an easy one for the Saints.

Analysis

Once again, Thomas won’t be playing in this game so it’s up to Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory to run the ball for the Saints again this Sunday.  While they weren’t spectacular in their game against the Panthers last Sunday they were effective.  What really hurt the Saints were turnovers.  They have to eliminate the turnovers in this game and get their passing game going.  If they can do that and get pressure on the Cardinals rookie starter at quarterback, they will win this game.

This game came at a perfect time for the Saints.  They can use this kind of game against this type of opponent in order to “tune up” and prepare for bigger challenges coming later on in the season.  Look for the Saints to get their offense back on track and for their defense to pick things up and have a good game.

Prediction

The Saints are the much more talented and much better put together at this time of the season than the Cardinals are.  They have stability at many positions while the Cardinals have troubles at several positions especially quarterback.  They are starting a rookie in this game and that typically leads to problems, problems which the Saints can take advantage of and use to win this game.

New Orleans 24 Arizona 10

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