TV: FOX, Matt Devlin, Tony Siragusa
In their last meeting, Nov. 24, 2002, Raiders QB Rich Gannon passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns as the Raiders rolled to 540 total yards in a 41-20 rout at Sun Devil Stadium on their way to the Super Bowl. In the last meeting in Oakland, on Dec. 2, 2001, the Cardinals pulled a 34-31 upset in overtime for their third straight win as QB Jake Plummer completed 29 of 45 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown.
2006 RANKINGS: Cardinals: offense 23rd (31st rush, 10th pass); defense 21st (16th rush, 23rd pass). Raiders: offense 32nd (12th rush, 31st pass); defense 8th (30th rush, 1st pass)
PREDICTION: Cardinals 27-20
KEYS TO THE GAME:
For the Raiders, it's about withstanding the early barrage. The Cardinals lead the league with 59 first-quarter points and if winless Oakland falls behind early it could lose what little razor-thin confidence it's hanging onto. Arizona's early-game offensive prowess and QB Matt Leinart's impressive first two career starts weren't enough for offensive coordinator Keith Rowan to keep his job.
Coach Dennis Green replaced him with quarterbacks coach Mike Kruczek, who vowed to remain aggressive after Arizona sat on and lost a big lead to Chicago on Monday. Kruczek said Leinart was "born with a football brain," and is comfortable trying to establish a balanced attack with the rookie at the controls.
Arizona will put points on the board, so the Raiders need improvement from their own first-year starting quarterback, Andrew Walter. For Walter to have a fighting chance, Oakland must establish the running game early to set up play-action.
The Cardinals had four interceptions Monday night and Walter must be especially aware of SS Adrian Wilson, who is a play-maker against the pass and as a blitzer.
FAST FACTS: Cardinals: WR Anquan Boldin's 17 career 100-yard receiving games is tied for fourth in franchise history with Mel Gray. ... RB Edgerrin James' teams are 43-6 when he rushes for at least 100 yards, which he has yet to do this season. Raiders: Have just one rushing touchdown in their past 15 games. ... Defense has allowed only 10 touchdowns in 23 opponents' trips inside the 20-yard line.
Cardinals: --QB Matt Leinart is throwing well on the run. The Cardinals are using him on a handful of bootlegs in each game, and he has been successful at it.
--OLB Karlos Dansby returned to the starting lineup last week on the strong side. He's a dynamic player with a wide range of skills. It's not an accident that the defense has been better in recent weeks as Dansby has recovered for a toe malady.
--CB Eric Green has solidified his hold on the starting job on the right side. Green had at least three bone-jarring hits against the Bears. --C Nick Leckey now has a firm grasp on the starting job. Leckey played well in his first start last week, replacing Alex Stepanovich.
--WR Larry Fitzgerald probably will miss a second straight game because of a sprained ankle. Fitzgerald hasn't practiced this week and is listed as doubtful.
--RB LaMont Jordan, who missed Wednesday's practice with a back injury, made it through Thursday's practice and is expected to be available Sunday.
--RB Justin Fargas, who had a shoulder subluxation against Denver, is farther along than expected and Shell would not rule him out of the Arizona game. Fargas will either be available to play both at running back and special teams, or not at all, Shell said.
--RT Langston Walker, who suffered a concussion against Denver, practiced for the second straight day and should be available to face Arizona.
--QB Aaron Brooks, out this week, has an outside shot to be ready to face Pittsburgh next week. Shell, however, has not decided if he would start if ready.
--QB Kent Smith, waived during training camp, was added to the practice squad for an additional arm. Shell said he could wind up representing the Raiders in NFL Europe.
--RB Adimchinobe Echemandu, a practice squad running back, got some reps with the regular offense and could be activated if Jordan and/or Fargas cannot go.