We talked about the Houston Texans secondary earlier, now we'll breakdown the keys to the game. Every week in the NFL, there's several factors that determine the outcome of the game, before and after. The Cardinals may have already established what their keys are over the bye week, but here at ROTB, we'll go over the biggest keys to the game, starting with the offensive line.
Cardinals offensive line vs Texans defensive line- You know it, I know it, and everybody else know's that the Cardinals offensive line has been terribly bad at this point in the season. There run blocking hasn't worked and the pass blocking has been just as horrendous. It probably doesn't help when you put a 38 year old immoble quarterback behind them also. The most important key to the game on Sunday will be the blocking by the offensive line. They must protect Kurt Warner, in order to give him enough time. If the Texans are in Warner's face for a large portion of the game, expect things to not go the Cardinals way.
Limit turnovers - If the Cardinals offensive line wasn't blocking so bad I'd nominate this as the biggest key to the game. The Cardinals are not the type of team that can overcome turnovers. Under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have 1 win and 15+ losses when they lose the turnover battle. In their last game, the fumble by Tim Hightower in the redzone killed the moment the Cardinals had, and kept the them from possibly taking a 10-0 lead. When the Cardinals were driving before halftime, a interception squashed any kind of hope the Cardinals had at making a comeback.
Improve the running game - The Cardinals didn't exactly struggle running the ball against the Colts, but were forced to abandon the run once the lead got out of hand. The offense works by running the ball after establishing a lead. The problem with that, is teams can put more players in coverage knowing the Cardinals won't run the ball, thus limiting the passing game. The Cardinals attack was balanced in the playoffs, due in a large part to the success of the running game. They'll need to become that way if they stand any chance at beating the Texans, let alone winning the division.
Get the crowd into the game - After two games at home this season, the Cardinals are 0-2. That ties the amount of home losses they had last year, and can't keep a fan base they struggled to build happy. When the fans are in the game, it not only electrifies the players, but also makes the opposing offense struggle. The Colts came out stalling on the first three drives and throwing a pick on another, mainly due to the crowd noise at University of Phoenix Stadium. Once the crowd was taken out of the game, the result speaks for itself.
Cardinals DBs vs Andre Johnson - So far this year the Cardinals secondary hasn't reached expectations, that they would be one of the best units in the league. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is experiencing the sophomore slump, and other players find themselves getting caught out of position frequently. Andre Johnson gives any team fits, but for the Cardinals defense to limit him, will be very difficult. What DRC makes up for in speed, he lacks in size. Bryant McFadden is physical enough to control Johnson, but won't be quick enough. If the Cardinals secondary wants any shot at slowing Johnson, they'll need safety help over the top.
Not to beat a dead horse, but the Cardinals passing attack against the Texans secondary is a huge key to the game, but I already discussed this earlier in the ROTB war room. Those are the main keys to the game, but what else do you think is important?