Aug. 24, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs the ball in the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Happy NFL Kickoff Weekend! The Arizona Cardinals start their season this afternoon against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. It is new beginnings for the Cards. As new head coach Bruce Arians has been saying and I’ve been saying, this is a re-loading with new talent, not necessarily a re-build. The Cards want to win now. It starts against their division foe in St. Louis.
What to expect:
Expect the unexpected. Both teams have new personnel on both sides of the ball, particularly offense. For the Cards they have a new quarterback in Carson Palmer. He is a major upgrade over anyone the Cards started in 2012. There are five running backs, including Rashard Mendenhall and the return of Ryan Williams. The Cards are carrying only four receivers, however have Patrick Peterson involved in the offense. Look for him to be very involved in the offensive mix. As for the Rams. Look to their new starting running back Daryl Richardson and their rookie receiver Tavon Austin.
What matchup to watch:
The Cards running game vs. the Rams rushing defense. If the Cards are going to score points, it may have to come on the ground, despite Arians and Palmer wishing to air it out. The Rams are just average against the run and can be scored upon. Their pass defense is pretty darn good as we all know, so the five-headed rushing attack could be the difference today
You probably won’t see all those sacks that the Cards suffered last season in St. Louis. I do expect Palmer to go down several times though with a Cards offensive line that still is a work in progress, especially with rookie Jonathan Cooper lost for the season. I see the Cards pulling it out though. The Rams have not won an opener since 2006. Why not add one more year to that misery? Cards win.