Saturday, January 16, 2010

NFC Wildcard Cardinals @ Saints Preview

Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals coming off an unbelievable 51-45 overtime win against the Green Bay Packers will now have to travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints with a short week to prepare.. Kurt Warner was just fantastic last week going 29 of 33 for 379 yards and 5 TDs. This week he will take his playoff magic to New Orleans.

The Cardinals who averaged 29.5 points in the playoffs last year, started with 51 this year. This lead me to believe that if Kurt Warner is in the game the Cardinals will move the ball and have a chance to win any game. Surprisingly the Cardinals were only 11th in the league in points scored this year and 12th in passing. Those numbers were left in the dust last week as the Cardinals had everything clicking. Look for more of the same this week as the Saints were 26th against the pass this year. The Cardinals are 5 deep at wideout with Fitzgerald, Boldin, Breaston, Doucet, and Urban. Look for them to cause many matchup issues for the Saints.

The New Orleans Saints were once 13-0 and the hottest team in the NFL. Everyone was picking them to reach the Super Bowl. Three short weeks later they were 13-3 and have been sitting around waiting to play a game. If the Saints come out sluggish and fall behind they could be in for a long day. The Saints were the most explosive team in the NFL this year averaging 32 points per game and over 400 yards of offense. I think the layoff will hurt them. On the ground they should have the edge ranking 6th in the NFL, with Pierre Thomas leading the way. However of late I like Wells and Hightower on the Cardinals to do the same amount of damage.

The key today will be getting to the quarterbacks. Drew Brees was only sacked 20 times this season on over 500 pass attempts, the Cardinals will have to do better than that. Last week the Cardinals got to Aaron Rodgers 5 times with the last time being the key play of the game. Likewise the Saints have to get to Kurt Warner or he will just shred them apart and may anyway.

The Cardinals were 6-2 on the road this season and seem very tough mentally. Who can bet against Kurt Warner at this point. I look for this to be a very offensive game with the key once again being a defensive play here or there. I think the Saints will be rusty on defense and the Cardinals will need to take advantage of that early.

Prediction. Arizona Cardinals 30 - New Orleans Saints 27

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