GAME PLAN: The Cardinals have difficulty executing for extended amounts of time on offense, so they aren't going to go on many 80-yard drives. They do, however, have the capability to strike for big plays and they need to get Larry Fitzgerald involved early. This offense doesn't seem to work until something gives it a kick start. Defensively, the Cardinals will keep doing what they have been. They will bring pressure on rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and depend upon a secondary to hold up. There will be a great rookie battle between cornerback Patrick Peterson and receiver A.J. Green.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Bengals DT Geno Atkins vs. Cardinals G Daryn Colledge -- Atkins has eight sacks, a high number for an interior lineman. Colledge has played reasonably well, but not great. He will need to hold his own in this matchup.
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson vs. Bengals WR A.J. Green -- The two played against each other in college, with Peterson at LSU and Green at Georgia. Both had their moments. They both are enjoying fine rookie seasons. Green is playing with a shoulder separation while Peterson is healthy. Peterson has improved in coverage over the past month and has done a solid job against No. 1 receivers.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Cardinals have started slowly on offense all year, and they can't pinpoint the reasons why. At least they don't want to say it out loud. The biggest reason is that their quarterback play has been shaky early. John Skelton tends to start slowly then improve. Kevin Kolb has been guilty of that, too, although to a lesser extent. There is probably not much coaches can do about it, other than hope the quarterbacks grow out of the phase.
Defensively, the Cardinals won't vary their game plan much. They'll bring pressure from different players and different areas. They'll match cornerback Patrick Peterson up against the Bengals' best receiver, A.J. Green. What the defense needs to do, however, is force more turnovers. They had one last week, the first one in three games. The biggest factor is the secondary's propensity to drop passes.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- That's the number of consecutive games the Cardinals have won. They last won this many consecutive games in 1999. They last won five consecutive games in 1977.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's frustrating but you're going to hit those times in your career. I think whenever you persevere through things like this, special things wait for you. So that's my mentality and that's the way I keep working." -- Quarterback Kevin Kolb on his injuries this season.
Cards/Bengals: Game Plan & Matchups To Watch
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