In what can only be described as the most important game of the preseason, if there is such a thing, the Cardinals roll into University of Phoenix Stadium and take on former head coach, the most successful head coach in team history, Ken Whisenhunt.
To be completely fair this Chargers team is not extraordinarily talented, and the offensive line has been a bit... erratic (to be politically correct) so this should offer some very favorable matchups for the Cardinals tonight.
What to watch for (Since this is the best dress rehearsal for the real thing this will be a dress rehearsal for this article as well):
When the Cardinals have the ball-
The offensive line has been nearly flawless in the passing game through two weeks of the preseason, and while some may say, "Hey it's only the preseason" Cardinals fans can respond "That didn't seem to matter last year."
Through the first two Cardinals preseason games the first team offensive line has only given up one quarterback disruption (a pressure/hit/sack) and of course Levi Brown has committed two Levi Brown's (penalties) so far, but if he's not getting Carson Palmer killed, fans will live with the penalties.
As far as tests go, the Chargers defensive line doesn't necessarily present much in the way of great pass rushers, Dwight Freeney will likely see limited snaps in order to maintain his health, but on the snaps he does play it will be a solid test for what Levi can do.
The passing game needs to be on point, because the Chargers shouldn't pose too much of a threat, and with what will likely be multiple drives, the Carson Palmer lead offense needs to produce in the passing game.
That means getting all the receivers involved, that means finding a way to get Rob Housler off the snide, and that means getting it done in the red zone.
Upfront in the run game though, the Chargers are as stout as any team the Cardinals are likely to face early in the season, even if they let Matt Forte get a little wild last week.
Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes are highly underrated ends in the 3-4 setting, and undrafted nose tackle Kwame Geathers has been a force inside versus the second team offensive lines he has faced thus far.
If the Cardinals can get a push up front and have an effective run game that pairs with their passing game, it will be a productive day at the office.
When the Chargers have the ball-
It's pretty simple really, get after the quarterback.
The Chargers offensive line has been... awful at protecting Philip Rivers thus far, and the Cardinals secondary has given up big chunks of yards, but hasn't given up any points, well the starters.
On the flipside, the Chargers run game has looked fairly decent thus far, and it really is because of the right side of the offensive line.
DJ Fluker and Jeromey Clary have done a good job of paving the way for Ryan Mathews, and that will be a tall task for Calais Campbell and David Carter to hold up, and a good test before the Cardinals get into the division and have to go up against the running games of the Seahawks and especially the 49ers.
Individually speaking, Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and the outside linebackers need to show that there is someone on the roster who can win one on one in pass rush situations.
Individual match up to watch-
Fluker versus Campbell is the most interesting individual match up I am looking forward to watching, as it will be a great test of skills.
Campbell is long enough and strong enough to win at the point of attack in the run game, and has the burst to beat Fluker consistently.
Chargers player to watch-
Vincent Brown is a good fit in the Whisenhunt offense, he runs excellent routes, knows how to win off the line of scrimmage, is a natural hands catcher, and despite not being a burner, is able to get deep and make plays.
He is one to watch tonight for the Chargers and will provide a good test for the Cardinals secondary.
More from Revenge of the Birds:
- Arizona Cardinals pass rush vs. Dallas Cowboys: How bad was it, really?
- Cardinals vs. Chargers preview: 5 questions with Bolts from the Blue
- Patrick Peterson getting more and more time with the Arizona Cardinals offense
- Arizona Cardinals close camp; Ryan Williams and Jeff King return to practice and will play on Saturday
- Arizona Cardinals top fantasy football prospects