| | New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals Sunday NFL
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals 4:05 PM ET
Arizona Cardinals +3.5 –120 (2 Units)
The Cardinals are 0-3 but they are a penalty and a turnover away from being 2-1. A touchdown was brought back against the Rams while a turnover, more than one actually, deep in Atlanta territory cost them a victory there. Their game against the Patriots was fairly close throughout so Arizona seems to have gotten closer to turning that corner. New Orleans is coming off an emotional overtime win over the Rams and asking them to go on the road and win another one is too much to ask (4-6 their last 10 road games).
Arizona, which has allowed an average of 15.3 points per game, are looking to avoid their first 0-4 start since losing their first five games in 1986. The Cardinals' defense contained Michael Vick last week and appears ready for the Saints' Aaron Brooks. Arizona must continue to get strong play from its defensive linemen. Just like with Vick, the linemen must pressure Brooks but not lose containment. The defensive backs might be able to confuse Brooks and bait him into poor decisions. That would create turnovers and favorable field position. The key to this game is Brooks and his ability to move the football down the field working against a Cardinals' zone scheme that will force him to be accurate. He is off to a solid season but he is very mistake prone and this game sets up perfectly for him to not play as good as he has. Backup RB Aaron Stecker filled in admirably for the injured Deuce McAllister, rushing for 106 yards and a score, but there are some obvious concerns about his ability to duplicate those results this week. In addition, a big reason for Stecker's success last week was an inconsistent front-five that could very easily follow up last week's dominating performance with a subpar effort against the Cardinals. The New Orleans Saints could be thin at receiver against the Cardinals. Joe Horn, Talman Gardner and Jerome Pathon are all suffering from injuries. Pathon pulled a hamstring in practice and is questionable for Sunday. Gardner is out with a sprained ankle and Horn is nursing a bruised knee while Horn has a bone bruise on his knee. Through the first three games, the Cardinals' defense has forced 10 turnovers but the offense has only managed to score nine points on the ensuing 10 drives. It may surprise some that Arizona QB Josh McCown has completed at least 60 percent of his passes in four of his last five starts. McCown was 20-for-26 for 198 yards, completing 13 consecutive passes at one point, but wasn't able to guide the offense to a touchdown in a 6-3 loss to the Falcons. Two of McCown's fumbles and one by wide receiver Karl Williams occurred inside Atlanta's 20-yard line. TE Freddie Jones is probably Arizona's best option in the passing game this week, as the Saints will likely load the box with some eight-man fronts. With most of the attention being focused on RB Emmitt Smith and stopping the run, Jones could potentially slip behind the linebackers off of play-action. He has the speed to provide Arizona's offense with a couple of big plays. In their first two games, the Saints gave up 349 yards rushing, and their two victories have come by a total of six points.