It’s that time of year again. It’s Week One in the NFL.
It use to be a time where you would dread the words, “I am an Arizona Cardinals fan.” A time where fans would swelter in 90 degree plus conditions to watch a terrible team, but that’s where Cardinals fans were born.
A lot has changed in the years since Jake Plummer was the quarterback and they played games at Sun Devil Stadium. This weekend marks the beginning of the 10th season at University of Phoenix Stadium, and the 96th consecutive sellout.
The Arizona Cardinals look to start their season off with a win as they take on the New Orleans Saints. The last time the Cardinals played New Orleans was in 2013 when the Saints defeated Arizona, 31-7. Expectations are high as many current Cardinals players try to make their way back from injuries last season.
Carson Palmer returns to regular season action after tearing his ACL in a Week 10 game last season. Palmer was out 212 days between his injury and his full participation in min-camp. With him at quarterback the Cardinals were 6-0 last season, and the team is optimistic he can continue that success this season. In addition to Palmer being healthy, Andre Ellington looks to be in better shape heading into this season. And the addition of Chris and David Johnson, the Arizona run game will be poised to strike for some good yardage.
Aug 30, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) against the Houston Texans during the first quarter of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The match-up with the Saints should be good for the offense as New Orleans is injury plagued on the defensive side of the ball. If Palmer gets 103 yards in this game he will pass Jim Kelly for 21st all-time for passing yards, and if the Cardinals can come away with the win Palmer would be the first Cardinals’ quarterback since 1974 to win seven consecutive starts.
The New Orleans Saints will be a good match-up for the Cardinals, but New Orleans will be without several key players. Running back C.J. Spiller, cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Jairus Byrd are ruled out for this game. With Spiller being out, this will give Mark Ingram the opportunity to get more snaps. Lewis and Byrd will be a loss for the Saints, as the Cardinals look to have a nice offensive game with Palmer back under center. For the Saints Drew Brees will look to come back after a not so good season, where the Saints went 7-9 and finished second in the NFC South.
Last season Brees had an overall completion percentage of 69 with 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. This was just a few seasons after Brees had 46 touchdowns in 2011. He will look to be more efficient and find a groove as he and the Saints begin their season.
Sep 22, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) talk following a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
This will be a great game, and I expect both teams to battle. But looking over the depth chart and the talent on both teams the advantage goes to Cardinals. They have deep, talent receivers and a quarterback that looks poised for a great comeback season. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinals have one of the best secondaries with Rashad Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson. We cannot forget the defensive line had one of the best with Calais Campbell.
The Cardinals have won the last five home openers, and will look to continue that streak this weekend against the Saints.