GAME PLAN: The Cardinals must be able to run the ball to win. To do that, the defense has to play well and keep this game close. It has not done that against good teams. Even though rookie Max Hall will start at quarterback, the Cardinals will take some shots deep. The Saints likely will use many blitzes to get to Hall. He needs some simple checkdowns, and he must not be afraid to run the ball a handful of times in the game.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: SS Adrian Wilson vs. Saints TE Jeremey Shockey -- Wilson's weakness is defending receivers in man coverage, especially elite tight ends. The Chargers' Antonio Gates burned him twice last week, including once for a touchdown. Shockey isn't in Gates' class, but he's a capable receiver. Wilson has to play better than he has the past two weeks.
RT Brandon Keith vs. Saints DE Alex Brown -- Keith was embarrassed last week by Chargers OLB Shaun Phillips, who had four sacks. Brown is not as good as Phillips, but he's capable of causing problems.
DE Darnell Dockett vs. Saints RG Jahri Evans -- Dockett was quiet last week in San Diego, finishing with zero tackles. He's the Cardinals most disruptive player, and he needs to win this matchup.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8-0 -- The Cardinals' record in games following a loss since late in the 2008 season.
SERIES HISTORY: 26th regular-season meeting, Cardinals lead series, 13-12. The Saints won in the playoffs, 45-14, last year, a game that might have changed the direction of the Cardinals franchise. Quarterback Kurt Warner retired soon after. The Saints hit him continually all afternoon and piled up the points, prompting the Cardinals to make sweeping defensive changes in the offseason, changes that have yet to produce any positive results.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Coach Ken Whisenhunt threatened personnel changes this week in the wake of the 41-10 loss to the Chargers, but sweeping moves aren't expected. In fact, the only change in the starting lineup might be at quarterback. With a rookie now at quarterback, it's imperative that the defense play much better to keep the Cardinals in the game. The Cardinals have to keep the ground game as a viable option, or rookie Max Hall is going to see more than his share of blitzes.
--WR Steve Breaston (knee) is out for at least one more game after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The hope is that he can return after the bye and play in Seattle on Oct. 24.
--WR Early Doucet (hernia) is expected to miss another week and be able to play in Seattle on Oct. 24.
--DE Kenny Iwebema (knee) a backup and special teams player, didn't practice Wednesday. He will be evaluated as the week progresses. The club doesn't have much depth at defensive end, so Iwebema's availability is a concern.
--S Matt Ware (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. He is a key figure in nickel and dime packages, as well. Rashad Johnson, in his second year, has played better than he did as a rookie, and he could fill in.
Cardinals vs. Saints: Matchups to Watch
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