Arizona Cardinals vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preview, prediction
The Arizona Cardinals will be staying at home for the second consecutive week in an NFC showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs (1-0) beat the Atlanta Falcons, 31-24 in a shootout last week. On the other hand, the Cardinals (0-1) were upset at home, 23-21, against a depleted New England Patriots squad.
History: The Cardinals and the Bucs have faced each other 18 times in the regular season, with the Cardinals playing 8 of these games as the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have an all time 9-9 record against the Bucs. The last win came in Week 4 of the 2013 season in a game where the Cardinals scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 13-10 win.
What: Arizona Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
When: 1:05 PM Arizona Time (1:05 PM EST)
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
Keys to Victory:
The Cardinals offense overall had a tough time time moving the ball last week. Carson Palmer had enough time to throw, but had some miscommunication with the receivers. Against a sub par Bucs secondary, Palmer should be able to put things together relatively easily.
Running back David Johnson had himself a game against the Patriots, and is expected to do the same against the Bucs. A passing and catching threat, Johnson figures to have himself another big day in his breakout season.
Bruce Arians will also look to get Chris Johnson more involved in the running game. Johnson was only on the field for 2 snaps last week with one carry. Together, the Johnson and Johnson running back committee should be able to help sustain long drives while also change the pace of the game.
The offensive line will have a different challenge ahead of this week. New England’s front seven is built around power, whereas Tampa Bay’s is built around speed. With the likes of Robert Ayers, Kwon Alexander, Lavonte Alexander and Gerald McCoy the Bucs defense have the speed to give the offense trouble. RG Evan Mathis is playing with an injured foot, and time will tell as to whether it will become a factor.
Currently, Arizona’s best receivers are Larry Fitzgerald and Jaron Brown. Michael Floyd dropped a surefire touchdown catch in the second half, and seemed out of sync with Palmer all game. In addition, it seems that John Brown is still being eased in as he missed a majority of the preseason with a concussion.
Fitzgerald showed last week that he’s still as good as he’s ever been. Arizona will need both Floyd and Brown to have their heads in the game as Fitzgerald will attract significant attention.
As expected, Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made sure to make rookie Brandon Williams one of his main targets. Bucs quarterback will most likely do the same. Patrick Peterson will lineup across from Mike Evans while Williams has his hands full with veteran Vincent Jackson.
With Williams going through growing pains, Peterson advised him to “take the bull by the horns.” There is a big a challenge at Williams’ front door, and he needs to invite it in.
Jimmy Garoppolo burned the Cardinals defense several times with his legs. Jameis Winston has enough mobility and talent to do the same. It would be in Arizona’s best interest to have a drone on Winston more often than not.
Finally, the defense will also need to improve their tackling. Too many times the Patriots were able to extend drives due to poor tackling by the defense.
While last week’s loss was surprising, Arizona has too much on the line this season to lose games like this. Carson Palmer and the offense should be able to shake off the sluggishness and rust. The defense is somewhat under performing, but should do enough for Arizona to get its first win.
Arizona Cardinals 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17