After suffering a loss in week 14, the New Orleans Saints (5-8) and the Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1) will be looking to leave the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday the winner, as these two teams square off in a rematch of the opening game of the 2015 season.
Quarterbacks are struggling
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has had a rough string of games lately. Brees has thrown six interceptions in the last two games alone, completing 65% of his passes in that span. He also hasn’t thrown a touchdown in back-to-back games. Bress faces another tough defense this week, going up against a Cardinals defense that is ranked number one total defense and number two in passing defense.
Carson Palmer has had an up-and-down season. Palmer averaged an interception in his last five games. He posted his worst quarterback percentage last week against the Miami Dolphins. Despite his recent struggles, Palmer has found the end zone seven times in his last three games.
New Orleans made a couple of roster moves this week. They placed offensive lineman Terron Armstead on the injured reserve. They signed linebacker Jason Trusnik in a corresponding move.
Trusnik, 32, has played for the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings over nine seasons. Trusnik signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers in 2015, but was released before the start of the regular season. Trusnik has appeared in 117 games, totaling 225 tackles, 3 ½ sacks and an interception.
Arizona made a couple of roster transactions of their own. The biggest roster news this week were the announcement that three starters went on the injured reserve and the release of wide receiver Michael Floyd. They added wide receiver Jeremy Ross, adding depth at the wide out position.
The Cardinals hope to find answer at the punter position, releasing Drew Butler and promoting Matt Wile from the practice squad. Scooby Wright III was signed off the Cleveland Browns practice squad.
New Orleans will be without linebacker Stephone Anthony (knee) and cornerback Delvin Breaux (shoulder). Both players suffered injuries in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.
Shiloh Keo, Daniel Lasco, Craig Robertson and Max Unger are listed as questionable. If able, Unger would return after missing last Sundays game.
Arizona will be without offensive lineman D.J. Humphries. Humphries suffered a concussion in last week’s game against Miami. This is a big blow to the Cardinals, who are already thin at the offensive line.
John Brown, Marcus Cooper and Jermaine Gresham are listed as questionable. One of the players that participated fully in practice on Friday is safety Tyrann Mathieu. That would be a big boost to the Cardinals secondary. Fellow safety Tony Jefferson also participated in full practice on Friday.
Matchups to watch
David Johnson - Saints Defense: Johnson got his first taste of action against the Saints in week 1 of the 2015 season. Since then, Johnson has become one of the best running backs in the league. Johnson has tied Edgerrin James NFL record for most games with 100 scrimmage yards to open a season. Cameron Jordan, Nick Fairley and Paul Kruger will be responsible stopping him up front. The Saints secondary will also do their best to contribute in the effort. Johnson caught the 55-yard touchdown to seal the Cardinals 31-19 victory against the Saint week one of the 2015 season.
Saints receivers vs. Cardinals secondary: Willie Snead, Brandin Cooks and Coby Fleener have struggled to get open lately. Cooks looks to be returning to his old self, catching 12 passes for 134 yards the last two games. All three of Bree’s targets will be going up against one of the best secondary’s in the league. Patrick Peterson is one of the best corners in the league and Tyrann Mathiue could return. The Cardinals secondary hasn’t played to their full potential as of late though, surrendering big plays in games late in games.
Battle of the offensive lines: When it comes down to it, both offensive lines will be a major factor. The Cardinals have dealt with injuries all season with the offensive line, while the Saints have seen the emergence from a couple of their offensive lineman. The Cardinals have accumulated 32 sacks this season, while the Saints have 26. Whichever offensive line can give their quarterback time to throw the ball and make plays down the field will give their team the best chance to win.