The Cardinals need to be able to run the ball because that's where the Saints are most vulnerable. The Arizona running game has improved over the latter half of the season. That will help open the pass game and might give the Cardinals some shots downfield to Larry Fitzgerald. Defensively, the Cardinals have to tackle. That was their biggest problem last week when their secondary whiffed numerous times. They also need to figure out a way to put pressure on Drew Brees. Bertrand Berry, a situational pass rusher, and DE Darnell Dockett need to have big games.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Saints CBs Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald --
The Saints feel comfortable with their starters and won't match up corners with receivers. Greer returned in the season finale after missing the second half of the year with a sports hernia. The Cardinals are deep at receiver, but getting the ball to Fitzgerald is a must.
Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie vs. Saints WR Marques Colston --
Rodgers-Cromartie has matched up against the other team's best receiver in some games, and the Cardinals could do it again. Rodgers-Cromartie has excellent cover skills, and his speed allows him to make up for mistakes.
Saints LT Jermon Bushrod vs. Cardinals OLB Bertrand Berry --
Berry is a situational rusher, and he's the biggest pass rush threat the Cardinals have. He had two sacks last week against Green Bay. Bushrod struggled against Dallas late in the year, but the Cowboys front gives a lot of offensive linemen trouble.
--WR Anquan Boldin remains questionable after suffering knee and ankle sprains in the season finale. He missed the first playoff game, but he hopes to play in New Orleans. If he can't, Steve Breaston will start. The Cardinals are 6-1 without Boldin over the past two seasons.
--ILB Gerald Hayes missed practice time this week with a sprained right ankle. Hayes plays on run downs, and the Cardinals don't have a big, physical tackler behind him. If Hayes can't start, Monty Beisel would replace him.
--DE Calais Campbell will wear a cast because a fractured left thumb. Campbell, a starter, played a lesser role against the Packers, but he was effective and could return to the starting lineup.
--FS Antrel Rolle played in the first round of the playoffs after missing a week with a thigh bruise. Rolle still looked as if he were hurting, and he appeared to tire as the game progressed. He is doing extra conditioning this week.