We continue our series of articles previewing the Saints regular season opponents, now in Week 15.
Week 15: @ the Arizona Cardinals
Our friends over at Revenge of the Birds contributed this piece, listing all of the biggest additions/subtractions from the Cardinals this offseason:
Notable free agent additions:
Evan Mathis (OG) and Tyvon Branch (SS)
Notable free agent departures:
Bobby Massie (OT) and Jerraud Powers (CB)
Traded Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick for Chandler Jones
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
DT Robert Nkemdiche (1st Round) May not start in 2016, but is expected to be part of a much improved pass rush for the Cardinals
The rest of the class is promising down the line, but barring injury CB Brandon Williams (3rd round), C Evan Boehm (4th round), S Marqui Christian and OT Cole Toner (5th round) and CB Harlan Miller (6th round) will be special teams contributors and valuable depth.
Biggest offseason addition:
Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche. The Cardinals defense biggest weakness was inability to rush the passer, they spent their first two 2016 draft picks addressing the issue. Jones is a proven nine sack a year player, Nkemdiche can be a dominant interior rusher early, it should improve the Cardinals biggest weakness.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
The growth of DJ Humphries at right tackle, how much does Evan Mathis have left in the tank at RG and can AQ Shipley man the center position for the year. The Arizona Cardinals have an offense loaded with talent, but the three question marks on the offensive line can throw a wrench in that plan.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
How does the new Arizona Cardinals secondary hold up? Justin Bethel is now cornerback two, Tyrann Mathieu may not be ready for game one so who assumes the role of free safety and nickel cornerback? The only guarantee for game one is Patrick Peterson, even Tony Jefferson is a battle for the starting job, everyone else is an unknown or returning from injury.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Tyrann Mathieu had a second ACL tear, will he be able to get back to being the most versatile defender in the NFL?
The Saints head out West for their final non-divisional game of the season. Last year, the Cardinals won their division and were second in the NFC only to the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals have a high-flying offense centered around veteran QB Carson Palmer, and a ball-hawking defense whose star is lockdown CB Patrick Peterson.
So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Can the Saints pull off the upset? Or will the Saints lose to the NFC West Champs, making the final two games against the Falcons and Bucs that much more important?