NEW ORLEANS -- The Arizona Cardinals are a team that prides itself in bouncing back from diversity. They haven’t lost consecutive games since December 2008. This year they’ve gone won-lost-won-lost, with three of those four games on the road.
But bouncing back this week won’t be easy.
The Cardinals were atrocious last week in losing at San Diego, 41-10. They have played two quality teams thus far in the Chargers and Falcons, surrendering 41 points in each. They have lost those two games by a combined score of 82 to 17.
For the first time in Ken Whisenhunt’s head coaching career, the Cardinals failed to score an offensive touchdown last week. It prompted him to bench quarterback Derek Anderson and install 25-year-old undrafted rookie Max Hall at the position.
He was far from impressive, hitting on 8 of 14 passes for just 82 yards while being sacked six times.
The line isn’t protecting. Running back Beanie Wells is complaining about his lack of playing time. Number two and three wide receivers, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet, will miss this game with injuries. Only Larry Fitzgerald has a touchdown reception amongst the current wide receiving corps, and he has two. The rest of the wide receivers consist of three rookie undrafted free agents and a first year undrafted free agent.
On defense the Cardinals surrendered 258 yards before halftime, allowed the Chargers to score touchdowns on three of their first four possessions, permitted Phillip Rivers to only have to throw 20 passes, while forcing the Chargers to punt just once in the game.
The Cardinals have barely beaten the Rams and the Raiders, and have been clobbered by the Falcons and the Chargers.
The game matches the last two NFC champions. The challenge for the Saints is to show how near they are to last year’s team while showing the Cardinals how far they have fallen from that recent pinnacle.