Behind Enemy Lines: Pats/Cards, Part III

In Part III of an exclusive four-part series,'s Jon Scott and's Amberly Richardson continue their interaction with six questions from Jon to Amberly. What's the deal with Kurt Warner's recent slump? Do the Cardinals have anything to play for on Sunday? How will the Cardinals defense stack up against the Patriots? And much more in this exclusive.

Miss Part II? Click here .

Jon Scott: Kurt Warner had a good start to the season leading the Cardinals to a 6-3 record with 19 TDs and just 6 INTs. The Cardinals have since dropped four of their last five with Warner throwing as many INTs (7) as TDs (7). What changed?

Amberly Richardson: The Cardinals have known for weeks they would clinch the division, which has produced a lackadaisical response. But that's more than Warner. Guys who usually don't drop balls, like Anquan Boldin, have faced a case of the dropsies. Other guys, who have really stepped up as of late (Steve Breaston), have their backs turned to the play and are blocking rather than looking for the catch.

Perhaps Warner's confidence is part of the equation as well. His vintage appeal is being able to throw into those tight spaces that other signal callers can't, sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. Warner often doesn't throw the ball away, but tries to make a play out of it, which can cause him to be picked off.

Also, Warner's offensive line was pretty bad in the Cardinals game against the Minnesota Vikings. The big guys up front allowed Jared Allen to mosey up to Warner and bring him to the ground.

JS: Now that Arizona has locked up a playoff spot and the division crown for the NFC West, what motivation is there to beat the Patriots?

AR: The Cardinals are playing for quite a bit when they face New England. The Cardinals need to prove they can win against a good team. The Cardinals don't want to finish with a record close to last year's (8-8). The Cardinals want to demonstrate their improvement in the numbers.

To finish 10-6, would add a lot of esteem heading into the playoffs. The Cardinals will play for confidence on Sunday.

JS: In New England, the Patriots lost three starters (or major contributors) in their secondary (Asante Samuel, Eugene Wilson and Randall Gay). The secondary hasn't fully recovered despite adding players through the draft and free agency. How will the Cardinals attack the Patriots secondary and what should we look for?

AR: Expect a full out air show. J.J. Arrington might not play, which eliminates a lot on the ground for the Cardinals. Boldin might be a no go as well, but Breaston has established that he can be counted on when Boldin sits out.

Larry Fitzgerald will still be on the active roster, and he is a threat on any given snap. If Boldin doesn't play, rookie receiver Early Doucett (LSU), will be the fourth receiver.'s Draft Expert Chris Steuber promise Doucett will have a lot to contribute to the Cardinals, if given the chance.

The usual fourth receiver, Jerheme Urban, plays like a No. 1 or No. 2 guy. He can be a game changer, if allowed.

JS: Speaking of changes, what have been the biggest changes to the Cardinals roster this year?

AR: The Cardinals are continually trying to figure out what to do with their running game. They benched veteran Edgerrin James when he wasn't producing in place of Tim Hightower who has a knack for the end zone. Hightower hasn't registered much more yards per carry, so they got Arrington more involved. He's been impressive as of late.

Expect the Cardinals ground game to see even more changes, almost on a game-by-game basis.

But the biggest change, is Warner being named the starting quarterback right before the season started.

JS: New England has a solid ground game in Sammy Morris, LaMont Jordan and crew. Will the Patriots find more success on the ground or through the air with Wes Welker, Randy Moss and company?

AR: The Patriots will likely be more successful in the air. The Cardinals rank a mediocre 15th in the league in pass defense (211.9 ypg), but they've give up more passing touchdowns (31) than any other team in the league.

Tackling is a continual problem for the Cardinals. Getting an opponent down on first or even second or third contact is a hindrance for Arizona.

On the ground, Arizona ranks 15th in league by allowing 106.7 ypg and have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns.

JS: Obviously injuries affect every team, how have they impacted the Cardinals roster this season?

AR: The Cardinals have been pretty lucky. Obviously, Boldin's shakedown was terrifying for the team, but he bounced back so fast. But mostly it's been late season injuries. Friday, LB Clark Haggans was placed on injury reserve.

Prediction: The Cardinals will be running with a limited roster on Sunday, and the East Coast is the Bermuda Triangle for West Coast teams, but there's a reason why teams play the game. The Cardinals are looking to surprise, but this probably won't be their week.

31-27 Patriots

Jon Scott is the publisher of and Amberly Richardson is the publisher of .

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