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Friday Five: Cardinals At Titans

Posted Dec 13, 2013


A glance at five top storylines for Sunday’s Cardinals-Titans game in Tennessee:

  1. To start, a start

The Cardinals are 2-4 on the road this season, coming close in three of their losses. It’s not like they haven’t been competitive. That said, out of the six games, the Cardinals have started well overall on the road really just once – in the opener at St. Louis. The Titans are a team that can be beaten, even at home. But the Cardinals would be in better shape if they jumped on them early.

  1. Zero to 60 in … never?

Tennessee has a couple of weapons, but the most dangerous remains running back Chris Johnson. CJ2K is long past the days of, well, CJ2K, but his speed is still scary. He has 820 yards rushing on 217 carries – less than a four-yard average – and his longest run this season is 30 yards. But he is the guy who broke off an 85-yard touchdown run in a blink the last time these teams played in 2009 and is capable of doing it again. He won’t wear down the Cards’ stellar run defense, but he can put a crimp in their stats with one blown gap.

  1. Winning one on one outside

The Cardinals beat the Rams last week in large part because the offensive line held up, and there is no question pass protection will once again be a crucial factor. But perhaps bigger this week will be the health of Michael Floyd, the outburst of Larry Fitzgerald and the ability for those wideouts to beat the talented Titan secondary, especially one on one. The Cardinals’ passing game has been clicking but this is one of the better defensive back groups they will have seen.

  1. Palmer production

The equation is simple: Competent, consistent quarterback play a good defense = wins. Oh what that could have meant in 2012. No matter. It’s what the Cardinals are getting this season as Carson Palmer continues to play well. He was at his efficient best against the Rams last week. There are other parts of the Cards that must perform to win, but Palmer’s play continuing to be strong is at the top of the list.

  1. Scoreboard watching

No, it doesn’t have to directly do with the game but the reality is this: The Cardinals need at least a little help to make the playoffs, even if they win out. That’s a tough way to go, but it’s the place they have put themselves in at this point. Beating out the 49ers for a playoff spot is unlikely by now, so the Cardinals are going to be closely watching the Panthers and seeking at least a tie against a team they beat earlier this season. 

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