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Three Big Things: Saints Week

A look at the top storylines for Thursday's game



The three biggest things to watch for Thursday when the Cardinals play the Saints at State Farm Stadium.:

Offense. Got To Have Some. Period

The pieces at this point are immaterial. That's the reality. Kyler Murray is your quarterback, and so much more is expected from this offense, and certainly more than the three points it generated in Seattle. The Cardinals did a nice job using Murray to open up the running game, and it seems likely it'll be Eno Benjamin and Keaontay Ingram again in the backfield. Hollywood Brown is hurt, but DeAndre Hopkins and Robbie Anderson join the receiving corps. The offensive line doesn't have Justin Pugh and maybe Rodney Hudson. But the Saints have a host of injuries too. This is about getting a first-quarter touchdown. This is about scoring at least 21 points, a middling number that would've been enough to win each of the last four games. As Murray said this week, this offense has done it before, with Kliff Kingsbury calling plays and Murray running the show. It shouldn't be this hard, and the Cardinals know it.

The Hop Factor

DeAndre Hopkins has returned. It seemed like it would take forever for him to get back on the roster, and yet, it went quickly. The Cardinals missed him, in the locker room and most certainly on the field. He isn't a "miracle" answer to their problems, but he is a pretty big piece. Kyler is confident in him. The Cardinals were simply a better team when he plays – which figures when you are adding a multi-time All-Pro. It's interesting to note that the last time the Cardinals scored a touchdown on their first possession – Week 13 last season at Chicago – it was Hopkins hauling in the touchdown catch.

Primetime Pressure At Home

It's national TV (OK, not TV, but Amazon Prime Streaming, but it's national and you get the jist) and not only do the Cardinals need a win bad, but the Saints are also 2-4 so they need a win badly too. Everyone is watching closely how the offense/Kliff/Kyler performs and add in the backdrop of the Cardinals still seeking a home win for the first time in what will be a ninth try. This will give the vibe perhaps not of a playoff game, but playoff-type importance. There is a Grand Canyon-wide gap between a 3-4 record and a 2-5 record. The game is meaningful on so many levels.