Game Scout: Cardinals at Titans

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Arizona Cardinals (8-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-8)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at LP Field, Nashville - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Justin Kutcher, Charles Davis, Kristina Pink
*Keys to the game: The Cardinals still sport one of the league's most lackluster ground games, but QB Carson Palmer has kept Arizona in the thick of the playoff race by cutting down on his turnovers. After throwing 14 interceptions through the first seven games, he has just four picks over his past six while getting a better grasp of the offense. Improved protection and chemistry with a deep receiving corps also helped Palmer's cause. Tennessee allows 117.1 rushing yards per game, but a respectable 4.1 yards per carry so Palmer will likely have to lead the way again through the air. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been serviceable for the Titans, but he has thrown four interceptions in consecutive losses while Tennessee lacks a strong vertical attack to help open running lanes for RB Chris Johnson. The Cardinals' quiet strength is a defense ranked third against the run while also racking up 38 sacks.
*Matchup to watch - Cardinals secondary vs. Fitzpatrick: The season-ending knee injury suffered by FS Tyrann Mathieu will have a ripple effect on the Cardinals, with Rashad Johnson returning to the starting lineup. Mathieu also could move to the slot in nickel packages. CB Jerraud Powers is likely to slide inside, replaced by Antoine Cason on the outside.
*Player spotlight - OLB Karlos Dansby: It's hard to argue with the assertion he's having his best season at 32 years old. Playing on a one-year, $2.25 million deal, the 10-year veteran has returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns and believes he could have had 10 picks already.
*Fast facts: Fitzpatrick was one of Palmer's backups for parts of two seasons in Cincinnati (2007-08). ... Arizona has allowed just five rushing touchdowns. The franchise single-season record is seven set in 1994.
The Cardinals have feasted on mediocre quarterbacks and inferior opponents. Their defense should control the action and while QB Carson Palmer doesn't receive great support from his ground game, he has more than enough weapons outside to attack the Titans.
*Our pick: Cardinals 21-16

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