A glance at five top storylines for the Cardinals-Raiders game Sunday at O.co Coliseum in Oakland.:
Make sure Carr stays parked
Yes, Derek Carr had four touchdowns passing last week and 282 yards and it was a good game. But those aren't the numbers he has posted weekly, and while he looks like a quarterback who can be the long-term answer for Oakland, it's not like the Cardinals will see Peyton Manning Sunday. If there is anyone who can create chaos to make it tough on a young quarterback, it is Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Something tells me Carr is going to see some blitzes he's not prepared for, and if the Cards can cause havoc, they can derail Carr for an afternoon.
Leaning on the ex-Raiders
Certainly, some of this is obvious. When the starting quarterback is one of the other team's castoffs, it's going to play a major role in the game. But Carson Palmer is coming off a pretty good game, especially when you consider all the time he missed, and it's obvious what he means to the Cardinals. Part of the reason he can be successful? Why, it's a left tackle protecting him – former Raider Jared Veldheer – who has been exactly what the Cards wanted and needed when they signed him as a free agent. The two of them play well Sunday, it will go a long way toward a Cardinal win. That doesn't even include the help former Raider Tommy Kelly provides on the defensive line.
Images from past matchups between the Cardinals and Raiders
For once, go for a run
At some point, the Cardinals need to establish a running game better than they have to this point. It would make sense to have a game like that against the Raiders, who are allowing 150 rushing yards a game. Andre Ellington would love to make that happen, but the blocking up front – whether it's one of the offensive linemen on a particular play or the tight ends who need to block more consistently – must come together better than the first five games. The Raiders have been crushed in time of possession. Their poor run defense is a reason why.
For Cat Man, one is better than three
The start to Chandler Catanzaro's season has been excellent. No one can argue 14 for 14 on field goals – except maybe that he has 14 field goal attempts in the first place. Every coach would rather get a touchdown instead, but realistically, the Cardinals continue to play with fire if they cannot make a few more of these drives end by cross the goal line rather than a Cat Man boot. It made the game last week against Washington much closer than it needed to be. On 15 trips into the red zone this season, the Cardinals have just five touchdowns, including a 3-for-12 mark since the opener. That's got to improve.
Surviving the Black Hole – whatever that means these days
It used to and still is a scary place to play, going to Oakland. Once, it was the Black Hole and crazy fans and a team that could play good football and intimidate. The struggles of the Raiders – 11 years without the playoffs – is well-documented, so the football itself tends not to intimidate, and the crazy fans still are there if not quite in the same numbers. The stadium might be the most scary part of the equation now, an antiquated place with sewage problems and age issues. There are always things to overcome in a road game. It doesn't matter the details as much as being able to work through them. The Cardinals have to find a way to make that happen.