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Cardinals vs. Broncos: Keys to an Arizona upset victory

How can the Cardinals start 4-0? Here's what to watch in game four of the Cardinals season.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

It is Week 5 of the NFL season, and yet some are painting this game against the Broncos as something of a "must win" or "statement game" for the Arizona Cardinals.

That seems silly, as the NFL season consists of 16 games, the likelihood of going 16-0 is almost zero, and the Cardinals are not going undefeated in 2014 (spoiler alert).

What is being said though, is that it will somehow legitimize the Cardinals 3-0 start to the season, showing that they are "for real."

The reality is the Arizona Cardinals are for real until they are not, just like all other teams, the Cardinals have won 10 of their last 12 games, they just missed the playoffs, so that leads to questions about how good they really are.

What are the keys to getting a win in Denver?

Move Peyton Manning off his spot, but not by blitzing

Incredible that teams that blitz Peyton Manning over 50 percent of plays end up never beating him, something Dave Burns brought up on his show with John Gambadoro, the Broncos are something like 9-0 in games where the teams blitz that much, so can they be the team that breaks that streak?

It's not likely, because Peyton has so many weapons all over the field, and he gets rid of the ball incredibly quickly that allows him to beat the blitz with ease.

The Cardinals have to find a way to get to Peyton without blitzing, and if they do, they have to get to Peyton, they cannot leave wide open spots in the secondary because Manning will find them, exploit them, and own them.

If you move Manning, if you get pressure, then you can beat him, but you have to do it the conventional way, or very unconventionally.

Run the Ball

In the Broncos last four regular season losses they have given up 177, 129, 121, and 116 yards rushing.

Outside of blowouts against the Eagles and Redskins, the Broncos have averaged winning by only one score when giving up over 100 yards on the ground.

Keep the ball out of Peyton Manning's hands/ That is the key to this game, because if the Broncos get the ball, they score.  It might not be at the rate they did in 2013, but they still can be very effective.

Andre Ellington is the man of the hour. He has to have a big game for the Cardinals, and in that, it will give the Cardinals the best chance on Sunday.

Continue to dominate against the run

Do not allow Montee Ball to be effective.  Do not let Manning have help running the ball, he doesn't need help.

It's pretty simple actually, there's not a lot to say about it.

Do not have a bad quarter

Through three games, the Cardinals have had just one bad quarter or half of football in each game, yet they are 3-0.

That happens. You cannot ask them to be completely perfect, but when they beat teams they are better than (on paper and coincidentally on the field as well) that makes sense.

Now the Cardinals are going up against a team that is at worst their equal and on paper the Broncos are probably a better football team. S bad quarter, or worse a bad half, will likely result in a game where the Cardinals are playing from behind, not controlling the tempo of the game, and having to throw the ball around the house.

That takes us to....

Do not ask Drew Stanton to be a hero

Drew Stanton has done an admirable job through two games of the NFL season, his first two starts in the NFL in almost four years, but he has not exactly set the NFL landscape on fire.

He has not turned the ball over, and he has made big throws in big moments, but this is a Broncos team that can counterpunch anything the Cardinals throw at them. This is an offense that can go toe-to-toe with the Cardinals' elite defense.

The Cardinals have to keep pace, and allow Stanton to make big throws in big moments, not to ask him to carry the team on his shoulders in a 21-point, come-from-behind win.

Get Michael Floyd involved as more than a deep threat

34 yards after the catch. That is what Michael Floyd has done through three games, yet he has 252 receiving yards on the season, good for 25th in the league.

Floyd is coming into his own, he is doing a great job, but he's caught only two passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He only has 12 catches. Get Floyd the ball, let him make plays after the catch, let him start to grow, because while he's been great, he's been a bit of a one-trick pony, and teams will try and take that trick away soon.

Final Thought

The Cardinals season is not made or lost with the outcome of this game, that's to start with, but I will say this -- you'd like to see the Cardinals either win, or lose playing well, not look like they do not belong on the field.

If that happens, then we as fans will have to endure the overrated talk, but the Cardinals will have to start to worry, long term, about Carson Palmer and his health.

A close game allows the Cardinals to maintain their slow burn on Palmer, a win, well let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

Broncos 24
Cardinals 20