Players to Watch: Saints vs. Cardinals

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Dec 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown (13) catches a touchdown pass in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Chiefs 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For many football fans across the country, the countdown to the start of the 2015 football season began the moment the New England Patriots solidified their Super Bowl XLIX victory over the Seattle Seahawks in February.

Each Sunday that passed was another check mark closer to September 13. Suddenly, summer was over. Now, it’s game week.

The Arizona Cardinals kick off the 2015 campaign against the New Orleans Saints. This season, expectations for the Cardinals are higher.

The Cardinals won nine of their first ten games in 2014 before Quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton succumbed to season-ending injuries. Arizona dropped four of their final six games to finish the season 10-6. Their efforts were good enough to make it to a Wild-Card matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

But the Cardinals were one-and-done in the 2014 playoffs. They dropped the Wild Card game to Carolina 27-16 in the Panther’s first postseason win in nine years.

The Cardinals’ semi-collapse toward the end of last season gave Arizona a sense of “unfinished business” heading into 2015. They know the standards have been raised and they look to get started on the right track with a win over the Saints in week one.

New Orleans, meanwhile, is looking to improve from their 7-9 season last year. They finished second in the NFC South, but were not eligible for a playoff spot.

They did not pick up their first win of 2014 until Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings. They figure to come out of the gate looking for their first win of 2015 in Week 1. But starting the season on the road is never an easy task.

We’ll see how they match up come Sunday afternoon. During the game, keep your eyes on these players who will, potentially, be difference makers in this one.

Next: The Man Under-Center