Five things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Raiders at State Farm Stadium:
Getting touchy with David Johnson
David Johnson had 98 yards last week – his season-high by 27 yards. He had 85 receiving yards – his season-best by 44 yards. He had 28 total touches, his season-best by three. This is the direction the Cardinals’ offense must move, and Johnson showed why in Kansas City. Now he gets an Oakland defense that has struggled and been stripped of some star players. Oakland is last in yards per play allowed, 30th in rushing yards allowed and 30th in third-down defense. To have Johnson in particular trending in the right direction heading into this matchup couldn’t have turned out better for Arizona.
No better time for protection
Once, the Raiders had Khalil Mack, and he alone made it uncomfortable to pass the ball against Oakland. But Mack isn’t a Raider. Neither is Bruce Irvin, who was cut. So for all the issues the Cardinals have had in pass protection – and now, left tackle D.J. Humphries might not be able to play Sunday with a knee injury – they will be facing a team that is last in the league in sacks per pass attempt and have all kinds of trouble pressuring the quarterback. Great news for Josh Rosen after the game in Kansas City. Maybe that means better production through the air.
Sticking with the Cardinals tangible for Fitz
Larry Fitzgerald shrugs off the many milestones he reaches seemingly on a weekly basis, but there are a couple this week for the wide receiver. It will be his 100th game at State Farm Stadium, a testament to his staying power both in the league – his 15th season – and with his original franchise. And speaking of the latter, Fitzgerald needs just eight catches to surpass Jerry Rice for the most receptions with a single franchise. Fitz stands at 1,274; Rice had 1,281 while playing for the 49ers. You know the Cards would like to get Fitz that mark at home and not have it happen in Los Angeles next week. Something tells me Fitz wouldn’t mind that either.
The Cards can show the Raiders why they wanted Rosen
I mean, yes, the Cardinals needed a quarterback. But it was the Raiders that help facilitate this important move, since the Cards needed to trade up to Oakland’s No. 10 spot to secure their QB. The Raiders were OK with swapping places because they knew they could get their target – tackle Kolton Miller – at 15. So here we are, and the Cardinals wouldn’t mind Rosen putting an exclamation point on the deal by having a big game. Chandler Jones might also teach some lessons to Miller on the other side of the ball.
A time to play favorite
A week after everyone talked about the huge point spread between the Chiefs and Cardinals, the Cardinals come home to find themselves a rare favorite in this struggling season. At least the Cards have made some strides in areas of late. The Raiders feel like they are moving backward, not only in their play but in their personnel as they lose guys to both injuries, trades and straight cuts. It’s the perfect time to notch a second straight home win after a rough start of the season at State Farm Stadium. The Cardinals need to take advantage.