September 16, 2012

Cardinals provide unique test for Patriots; Week 2 preview

Dockett and Co. gave the Seahawks all they could handle in last week's win 
Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at New England Patriots (1-0) 1 p.m.

Both the Patriots and Cardinals come into this week 2 matchup undefeated, but the Patriots are clearly the more talented and balanced team.  The Cardinals had trouble running the ball, lost their starting quarterback and running back to injuries, and for the most part had trouble moving the ball and getting first downs.  The Patriots did not have much trouble on either side of the ball last weekend.

Key Matchups
Cardinals Pass Rush vs. Patriots Offensive line
The Patriots offensive line has been seen as a weak link ever since their first preseason game when many fans and analysts wondered if Tom Brady were better off not playing at all.  Last week against the Titans, they did not fare too badly.  Brady was hit four times and only sacked one time.  Stats that any team would welcome each Sunday. The Cardinals pass rush should give them a greater challenge.  Against the Seahawks, the Cards rush produced seven hits and three sacks on rookie QB Russell Wilson. There is a huge difference in rushing a rookie making his first start to going after the crafty Brady, but nonetheless the Patriots could have their hands full.  Key players on their defensive line are  Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell.  If the rush gets to Brady often, then CB Patrick Peterson could be a factor.

Larry Fitzgerald vs. Patriots Defensive Backs
Fitzgerald is widely seen as one of the best receivers in the league, but he has been held back by poor performances from the quarterback position.  Last week, Fitzgerald caught four passes for 63 yards, not exactly a big day.  Fitzgerald is so talented that his performance from previous weeks has no effect on him from week to week. Having Kevin Kolb under center after the injury to starting QB John Skelton could be interesting because of the lack of a rushing attack (top 2 backs are injured).  The Patriots don't have anyone that can act like Darrelle Revis and take him out of the equation.  To defend him, the Pats will most likely double cover him which could open up some opportunities for others. But who will these others be? 

Kevin Kolb vs. Patriots Defensive schemes
As I mentioned above, Kolb will be starting today.  Even though Kolb got a big contract from the Cardinals after he was traded from the Eagles, Kolb has had trouble holding onto the starting job.  Normally, someone that has a big contract and was traded for will be given every opportunity to earn the starting spot. The fact that Kolb hasn't done that should say something about his production.  Kolb did lead the game-winning drive last week though.  The Patriots defensive showed some improvement from last season in their overall ability and that should continue with Kolb.  The scheme always changes for the Patriots so Kolb will have to guess what is coming and that will be trouble for him and the Cardinals.