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Saints vs Cardinals Preview: Blogger’s Edition Part 1

We sat down with Scott of the Arizona Cardinals fan blog raisingzona.com and discussed the upcoming NFC Divisional Matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints.

Scott discusses his keys to the game, the fatigue non factor this week..and a friendly reminder not to forget the kickers.

SaintsGab: The Cardinals gave up over 400 yards passing and 4 TD passes to Green Bay last week. What will the Cardinals do defensively to slow down the Saints offense?

RaisingZona: Good question. What can they do? They basically have five days to prepare for an offense that is, on paper, even better than Green Bay. Drew Brees, at least right now, is a better quarterback. I don’t think you should see New Orleans score 45, but I also don’t think the defense can keep them under 20. Brees has just as many, if not more weapons than Rodgers was able to utilize last Sunday.

SG: What will the Cardinals do on offense to exploit mismatches in the Saints’ defense?

RZ: Do what they’ve always done. No need to change the game plan. Quick releases by Warner in the passing game to avoid blitz’s, and keep a hard balance early on between the running game and passing game like they did last week. After 30 plays last week, they had the same number of running plays as they did passing plays. Look for more cross patterns from the receivers. New Orleans is at their best when they take the ball away from you. You can be sure Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower will be focused on holding onto the ball, something they had trouble with on a consistent basis throughout the regular season.

SG: Who or what is your X Factor for this game? (anything you think may affect the outcome of the game)

RZ: Believe it or not, the kicking game. In a game we expect to be a shootout, sometimes things you expect don’t always come to fruition. This could easily end up being a game like 23-20. In that case, field position is key. This is where the Cards punter Ben Graham comes in. He was a master at pinning opponents inside the 20 and the 10 yard lines all season. As for kicker Neil Rackers, a kick from him could ultimately be the difference. He had a tough game last week. How he rebounds could decide what the Cards plans are for next weekend.

SG: I have to agree with you on this one. Lost in all this talk of an offensive shootout is the kicking game. Thomas Morestead has become a solid punter for the Saints and has played better as the season wore on, winning the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Award the last week of the regular season. Garrett Hartley has done well for the Saints for the most part. He had a key miss against the Bucs in Week 16. It will be interesting to see how the Saints’ kickers handle the playoff pressure, as both players have no playoff experience.

SG: How do you think having a bye week and resting players at the end of the season will affect the Saints? Is having momentum going into the playoffs true or overrated?

RZ: Hard to say. I say it depends on the team. For a team like the Cardinals, I think it was important they played last week. Sure they will have only five days of rest but having played recently will help this team. They have been inconsistent all season and they play better when they don’t have as much time off. For the Saints, I’m not sure the week off normally would have been an issue, however the starters didn’t play in week 17 and they didn’t play well at all the two weeks before that. Everyone is professional though and the Saints didn’t win 13 games on their good looks. They did something right and they are home. I don’t see either team having that great of an edge based on the bye for the Saints.

SG: How will playing an emotional overtime game and preparing for this game on a short week affect the Cardinals?

RZ: It only affects them in the sense they had one less day of practice and they had to cut their day off in half on Tuesday. They didn’t experience too many tough injuries in Sunday’s win, however linebacker Gerald Hayes is questionable. Again, these are professionals and they’ve dealt with shorter weeks in the past without much issue.

SG: I have to disagree. If this game turns into a shootout, advantage Saints. The Cardinals have not had a weekend off since Oct 11th..that’s 14 straight weeks. And the Cards were gassed after last week’s game.


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