The Arizona Cardinals travel to Soldier Field this Sunday in a game between two 4-3 teams wanting to make a run in their divisions. The Bears have had a similar up and down season as the Cardinals, and both need to establish some consistency on both sides of the ball. After a puzzling loss to the Carolina Panthers this past weekend, the Cardinals are hoping to continue their road success. So far this year, the Cardinals are 3-0 on the road, and have beat the Jaguars, Seahawks, and Giants in that span. There will be many keys to this game, but perhaps none as important as the production of Kurt Warner.
Kurt Warner -This game starts and ends with Warner. He must get off to a good start and put points on the board early. Ken Whisenhunt needs to find a way to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, whether it be a touchdown or a deep pass, and if Warner can finally start making the deep ball successfull, it will greatly help the offense. Warner needs to play keep away, and not turn the ball over. If he can do that, it gives the Cardinals a significantly better chance of winning the game.
Stop the run - After watching the success the Panthers had against the Cardinals last week, there's not a doubt that the Bears will try to establish the run early(and why shouldn't they?). They have a big offensive line and a talented young back in Matt Forte. The Cardinals need to force Jay Cutler to throw the ball more then Jake Delhomme did last week. Allowing the Bears to run 4+ yards every carry tires the defense, and keeps the Cardinals offense off the field. If the Cardinals can stop Forte, and not allow any running production from the Bears, it gives the defense a better chance to slow the Bears.
Establish the run - Not only do the Cardinals need to stop the run, but they must establish the run themselves. Teams have game planned around pressuring Kurt Warner, and the only way to counter that game plan is running the ball. The Cardinals can't get behind early like they've done before, and must start with handing off the ball. Warner is considerably better on play action, and at this point anything will help.
Pressure Jay Cutler - Cutler has a tendency to turn the ball over when he's pressured or things aren't going his way. The Cardinals sacked Jake Delhomme once last week, something that won't cut it in Chicago. If Cutler can get out of rhythm, it may mean multiple interceptions for a Cardinals defense that didn't have any last week.
One thing that can't happen is for the Arizona Cardinals to stay in their funk. They got ahead of themselves last week and bought into their own hype, which unexpectedly let the Panthers win the game. The Cardinals have been better on the road this season, and must continue that trend on Sunday for them to stay in the division race. What are your keys to the game?