Arizona Cardinals vs Oakland Raiders: Preview, prediction
Offensively, for the most part, the Cardinals have no question marks about who will be playing what role. Defensively, it is a whole different story, with the secondary being the main plot point.
Starting safety Tyrann Mathieu is almost ready to return, but for now he will have free agent signee Tyvon Branch filling in for him. The other starting safety is D.J. Swearinger, who gave Arizona good production in a reserve role last season.
If there any player to keep an eye on in the game is third round draft pick Brandon Williams out of Texas A&M. Williams who converted from running back has only played corner for a year and was just named the starter across from Patrick Peterson.
Bruce Arians said the starting job was Williams’ to lose. Justin Bethel, who was predicted to be named the starter, has been injured since the NFC Championship Game with a foot fracture and suffered a setback in the off season which has further delayed his return.
Linebacker Chandler Jones will also be making his Cardinals debut as he ushers in Arizona’s new pass rush. Along with Calais Campbell, second year player Rodney Gunter. Key pass rushers who will be sitting out this game include first round pick Robert Nkemdiche and starting nose tackle Corey Peters.
As has been the mantra here at Raising Zona regarding preseason games, the ultimate result does not matter. The primary goal is for players to get refamiliarized to game situations and make the most out of their playing time. However, a win will get the team in the right mindset as the season opener approaches.
That being said, the game will ultimately come down to Arizona’s backups vs Oakland’s backups. The Cardinals have very talented players in reserve roles along with promising rookies who I believe will able to steer the home team to their first win of the 2016 campaign.
Arizona Cardinals 27, Oakland Raiders 17