Sunday's matchup against Oakland is a must-win affair for the Cardinals with games coming up against…
The Breakdown: Raiders @ Cardinals
Arizona's offense will look to get back on track after struggling mightily against the Falcons. One major focus will be the offensive line keeping QB Derek Anderson upright and establishing the run against the league's 29th ranked rushing defense.
Containing DT Richard Seymour and LB Thomas Howard and staying away from CB Nnamdi Asomugha takes precedent as the Big Red are still looking for a complete performance on offense. Having RB Beanie Wells back in the lineup should help, but it is still unknown how many carries he will see. The Cardinals will need to improve on third down to sustain drives and take pressure off their defense.
Cardinals Defense vs. Raiders Offense
Arizona needs to pressure new starting QB Bruce Gradkowski and attack a shuffling offensive line. The Redbirds' defense has shown flashes, but has struggled on third down and suffered from an abundance of penalties. Both areas will need to improve in order to get the season back on the right track.
Big plays from veteran LB Joey Porter and SS Adrian Wilson will be crucial as the Silver and Black have shown potency in the passing game with TE Zach Miller and WR Louis Murphy. The Cardinals' defense needs to come into the home opener with a chip on their shoulder after giving up 41 points against Atlanta.
Key Player: Derek Anderson
Anderson has been inconsistent in his two games as the starter, but this game presents a golden opportunity for him to establish himself at the position. There have already been calls for backup Max Hall, but coach Ken Whisenhunt is not one to cave to public pressure.
A solid performance from Anderson would be very encouraging going forward. Anderson will face a stiff challenge from Asomugha and safety Michael Huff, but a quality performance from him will be vital for a successful season.
The Cards are eager to get back on the field after an embarrassing showing last week and their home opener could not have come at a better time. Arizona has been tough to beat at University of Phoenix Stadium in recent years and that needs to continue for a third consecutive playoff appearance to be possible. There should be a sense of urgency for this game and the team will respond as such.
Expect the Cardinals to establish the run early on and utilize play-action passes as a result. Expect leaders such as DT Darnell Dockett and WR Larry Fitzgerald to step up and pace Arizona to a bounce back victory.
Cardinals 27, Raiders 13
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