Sunday Night Preview: Colts vs. Cardinals

After picking up their first win of the season a week ago, the Cardinals head into a pivotal matchup against the Colts on Sunday night. Following a loss against the 49ers in Week 1, many experts had already written Arizona off. However, a victory against Indianapolis on national television could change that perspective. Brad Wilbricht previews Sunday night's offensive showdown in the desert.

In front of a national audience on Sunday night football, the Arizona Cardinals have yet another opportunity to prove they've arrived as perennial contender in the NFL. The Cardinals square off against the Indianapolis Colts this week as Indianapolis comes in off a Monday night victory over the Miami Dolphins. During that game in Miami, the Colts were dominated in time of possession as the Dolphins held the ball for over 45 minutes.

Due to the circumstances that took place in South Florida, Arizona should have several advantages on Sunday night. Indianapolis will have to navigate through a short week and while the Colts' offense should be fresh, their defense logged 85 plays against a physical Dolphins squad. Furthermore, Indianapolis is dealing with a handful of injuries including the likes of WR Anthony Gonzalez and S Bob Sanders.

Miami's rushing attack racked up 239 rushing yards against the Colts and while the Cardinals are unlikely to match that output, success on the ground should open things up for QB Kurt Warner and company. Arizona's wide receiving corps is finally getting healthy with wideouts Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston nearly back at full strength. Additionally, WR Larry Fitzgerald is bound to breakout after two lackluster performances to start the season.


Tim Hightower
(Getty)

Indianapolis' defense has limited its opponents to 139 yards per game through the air but has proved vulnerable on the ground. With the combination of Tim Hightower and Chris Wells working fairly well thus far, look for the Cardinals to deploy a more balanced offensive attack. With teams devoting an abundance of attention towards Fitzgerald, the underneath routes have been wide open. Expect that trend to continue with Warner connecting on numerous short passes.

Defensively, Arizona will need a consistent pass rush on QB Peyton Manning. Manning was sacked only once in Miami and averaged over 13 yards per pass against the Dolphins' secondary. Arizona has already accumulated seven sacks during the year's initial two contests and must continue that production in order to slow down Manning and the Colts' young receivers.

With Joseph Addai and Donald Brown splitting duties in the backfield, Indianapolis has struggled in the running game. The Colts have been unspectacular on the ground through the first two games averaging just 66 yards per game. Meanwhile, Arizona has done an outstanding job of stopping the run thus far and currently rank fourth in the NFL allowing only 57 yards per outing.

Although we're entering just the third week of the season, the Cardinals have a chance to win their second straight game and improve to a 2-1 record. With San Francisco already off to a 2-0 start, Arizona can ill afford to fall further behind in the division race. A win against Indianapolis would put the the Cardinals back in the mix of the NFL West and instill the confidence the team boasted during last year's run to the Super Bowl.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com
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