Week 3: Saints-Cardinals matchup analysis

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Sam Rosen, Heath Evans, Molly McGrath
*Keys to the game: The Saints no doubt took notice of a wrinkle the Cardinals implemented last week to slow down the Lions' high-powered offense. Arizona at times moved safety Yeremiah Bell to linebacker and brought rookie Tony Jefferson in as an extra safety, improving the overall coverage ability of the defense. New Orleans' ground game has been spotty and the red-zone offense has been a major issue with just one touchdown in seven possession. The Cardinals are getting just enough production out of RB Rashard Mendenhall to prevent immobile QB Carson Palmer from behind bludgeoned behind a suspect offensive line. Palmer has been sacked five times, however, and the Saints' new 3-4 defense has shown the ability to provide pressure. Arizona converted just one of 11 third downs against Detroit last week, with head coach Bruce Arians saying the issue is a combination of routes and reads that need to be cleaned up in the passing game.
*Matchup to watch - Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Saints CB Keenan Lewis: Fitzgerald took himself out of last week's game due to a hamstring injury, but insists he'll play against the Saints. Lewis received a $55.5 million contract to leave Pittsburgh to continue to emerge as a No. 1-type cover man. He gets an opportunity to live up to that expectation against Fitzgerald.
*Player spotlight - Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson: The multi-dimensional threat last week became the first NFL defender since at least the 1970 merger to catch and complete a pass in the same game as Arians works to get the ball in the hands of the team's most dynamic threat.
*Fast facts: The Cardinals will stay in Florida after the game to prepare for next week's game at Tampa Bay. ... Saints WR Marques Colston has nine TDs in his past seven home games.
The undefeated Saints are six yards away from potentially being 0-2 with a much-improved Cardinals team coming to down. New Orleans will again struggle to run the ball, but QB Drew Brees will use the short passing game and improved red-zone production to ease past Arizona.
*Our pick: Saints 27-20

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