A glance at five top storylines for the Cardinals-Redskins game Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.:
To QB or not QB – which of the three?
Even back in 2010, when Bruce Arians was going through a rash of injuries at quarterback for the Steelers while Ben Roethlisberger was suspended, he at least knew which quarterback would be starting at the beginning of the week. That hasn't been true this week, where the Cardinals have waited to see what will happen with Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, all the while prepping Logan Thomas. As of Friday, there were still no concrete answers. And as with any NFL game, it is the starting QBs that will drive the narrative of the outcome.
Preventing Washington from getting on a run
No team has really run a lot on the Cardinals. As good as the Broncos were in the first half last week, they only had four rushing yards at halftime. But after defensive end Calais Campbell was hurt, the Broncos moved the ball on the ground, and now another of the Cards' better run stuffers – linebacker Matt Shaughnessy – is out too. The run defense will now be significantly tested. One of the reasons the Cards' defense has been able to hold up through all the changes is because it can still stuff the run. That doesn't change, although it could get more difficult.
Next. Man. Up.
So this is about Alex Okafor. And Kareem Martin. And Ed Stinson, perhaps Jonathan Cooper, maybe Logan Thomas and definitely Drew Butler. Injuries mean the next guy has to play and play well and the Cardinals have done a good job making that work this season – so far. At some point, attrition hurts, and in the case of lose Campbell and Shaughnessy, the Cardinals have to hope this isn't the turning point.
At this point in his career, Antonio Cromartie has probably perfected the art of moving on as a cornerback. That's what they all say, you know, that as a cornerback you have to have a short memory. Cromartie's self-acknowledged worst day ever last week in Denver against Demaryious Thomas screams for a forget-me. But the Redskins can get down the field too, with DeSean Jackson. We'll see how Todd Bowles handles such things – it might be Patrick Peterson man-to-man on Jackson – but the Cards have to avoid the bombs. It's one thing to give up a couple of catches being on an island. It's another to consistently give up big plays.
The time when opportunity knocks
The Redskins are only 1-4 but they have been effective at times. They have pass rushers in Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. They have the offense that can throw the ball, like Cousins showed at times last week against the Seahawks. Then again, they are 1-4. They are traveling cross country. The Cardinals get a home game. If ever there was a time to make some hay with the schedule (combined with the trip to Oakland next week), this is it. If the Cardinals want to make sure they are in the NFC West race, these are the games they need to get.