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Friday Five: Cardinals At Saints


A glance at five top storylines for Sunday's Cardinals-Saints game in New Orleans:

  • Tyrann Mathieu goes home

The Honey Badger was born in New Orleans and while he is happy to start his career in Arizona, his hometown means a lot to him. There's no question Mathieu would like to make a big play (or three) in front of friends and family, and there's no question the Cardinals could use that kind of playmaking on defense. The Saints have a potent offense but a couple of turnovers might make a big difference.

  • Taking on Jimmy Graham

The Saints have multiple weapons but it's hard to think of one more dangerous than tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham had a huge day in Tampa last week and the Cardinals have to make sure they don't let him get loose. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles promised the Cards will mix it up, but he also said shutting Graham down isn't possible. If the Cards can be effective on Graham at all, it would bide very well.

  • The integration of Rob Housler

Speaking of tight ends, the Cardinals have been without theirs this season. But now Rob Housler should play for the first time this season coming off an ankle injury, and he like Graham provides mismatch potential for his offense. Housler had a quiet preseason as Arians kept him under wraps, but he's a piece Arians has been counting on and now the Cards have a chance to let him loose.

  • Run with someone

The toe injury of Rashard Mendenhall leaves his availability in question this week, but the Cardinals have some depth at the position. Who would the Cards use more if Mendenhall is down or limited is up in the air. Rookie Andre Ellington has flashed. Alfonso Smith got as many snaps as Ellington last week, and Ryan Williams could finally be active.  

  • Starting a game at 10 a.m. Arizona time

The Cardinals will avoid the body-clock problem in Tampa in a week, because they will have stayed in Florida the entire week. But that won't help this weekend. The Cardinals don't get into New Orleans until the evening and then have to turn around and have a noon local kickoff on Sunday. That's an early start and something that, in the past, has been an issue. You don't want to get down early at the Superdome. (Then again, a quick start in the Superdome is no lock either – like the playoff game.)

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