Both the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals are facing subpar finishes in 2016. Bruce Arians’ squad has had more of a ‘fall from grace’, as the team is a season removed from being the top of the NFC West at 13-3 and getting to the NFC Championship game. Since joining the Cardinals in 2013, Arians has produced a winning season in each year by winning 10 games or more.
Unfortunately, it looks grim for both teams this season even if they are still mathematically alive in the NFC Playoff race. Saints fans have been adamant about the team ‘tanking’ for a higher draft pick after the most recent debacle against the Buccaneers, which was the second straight game the offense couldn’t put it together. While tanking doesn’t feel like a realistic option, we are curious to see what type of team shows up in Sunday’s late kickoff.
The Saints are looking to accomplish something that hasn’t been done since 2000, and that’s win a game in the desert. The last time these two met, Sean Payton’s crew lost their 2015 regular season opener 31-19, and many have not forgotten about the game before when rookie Max Hall beat the defending Super Bowl Champs in 2010 thanks to a big defensive effort.
Clearly, one of the big focuses in this game is how the Saints front four fares against running back David Johnson, who is third in the NFL with 1,085 rushing yards. Dennis Allen’s defense has done a great job tightening up after the first few games, and they’ve done everything possible to keep the Saints in games when the offense has sputtered. Last year, Carson Palmer found much success through the air against the Saints, throwing for 307 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 completions.
Meanwhile, the Saints look to get their groove back on offense. In the past two games, Drew Brees and company have produced only one touchdown. The offense still holds the top spot in the NFL in terms of total yardage at 5,438 yards (418.3 yards/game), but the Cardinals defense has allowed a league low of 3,881 yards (298.5 yards/game).
A loss by the Saints would officially stamp their fourth losing season in the past five years and likely eliminate them from the postseason altogether. However, a win may just keep the select few interested parties intact for another week in hopes of the extremely slim chance that this team could sneak into the postseason.