The Arizona Cardinals head out on the road -- again -- and take on the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday. Although the division is slowly slipping away, there remains hope. The Seahawks stand alone at the top, but are not untouchable. What makes things difficult are the two wins they already hold over the Cardinals. If Seattle can ride a long losing streak and the Cardinals battle back, the season can still be saved. It all begins with a win in Kansas City.
Third down production - One of the Cardinals biggest faults this season has been their abysmal play on third down. Right now the Cardinals are 31st in the league with a 29.1 completion rating on third down. To better put it, they are only converting three first downs for every ten attempts. The Chiefs defense is middle of the road, currently ranked 14th allowing completions 37.8% of the time. If the Cardinals can't convert key third downs, it kills drives and keeps them out of scoring range. That's what has hurt the offense so bad this season and that is why they only have three victories. Ken Whisenhunt needs to call plays against the Chiefs that put the Cardinals in good range to convert.
Force Matt Cassel to play - The Chiefs are first in the league in rushing yards per game with 165.3. The Cardinals have struggled to stop the run. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the defense needs to play their best game of the season against the run on Sunday. If they can even slow the run and force the Chiefs to punt the ball, it will play to their favor. The Broncos destroyed the Chiefs last week because they held their offense to just 51 rushing yards. They made Cassell carry the game on his shoulders. The Cardinals best chance to win is to take advantage of a loss that is only a week old.
Involve Larry Fitzgerald - Rewind to the Super Bowl run two seasons ago. Remember when Larry Fitzgerald went off and single handily led the Cardinals through the playoffs? As crazy as it seems, a receiver can put the offense on their shoulders. Fitzgerald has been waiting for that all season and it's no difference on Sunday. The Chiefs receiving offense is ranked 22nd, allowing 253.4 yards a game. It would also be nice for Fitz to silence any rumors or a potential trade to Kansas City.
These are just my keys to the game, what are yours?