The Arizona Cardinals take on the San Francisco 49ers this afternoon. What are things to watch in this game?
Arizona turned the ball over six times in two games against San Francisco in 2013. In their first game in 2013, they came at the worst times. Larry Fitzgerald lost a fumble on a drive that looked like would give the Cardinals the lead. Alfonso Smith fumbled on the drive after San Fran scored a touchdown, ending Arizona's hope of a comeback.
Can the Cardinals be careful with the football? So far, they are +3 in the turnover department in 2014. San Francisco is even.
Ellington has been a difference maker when he gets the ball. If he carries the ball at least 10 times, Arizona is 7-1. Ellington has started three games in his career. The Cardinals have averaged over 144 yards per game in those contests and have gained over 100 in all three. In the 15 games he didn't start last season, the team averaged 89.3 yards per game and surpassed 100 yards as a team only five times.
Arizona was great offensively against the Niners in 2013. They piled up almost 500 yards in the season finale. They gained 885 yards in their two matchups against the Niners. Can they do that with Drew Stanton at quarterback?
Arizona's defense loved the blitz against San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick. In their first game last season, Arizona blitzed on 30 of 32 dropbacks. They sacked him twice. They only got pressure on 11 of them. They blitzed him 26 of 38 dropbacks in their Week 17 game. Against the blitz, Kaepernick was 26/53 for 559 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT.
He was the only back in 2013 to reach 100 yards in a game against the Cardinals' top-ranked rush defense. He broke the Cardinals in one drive, gaining 41 yards on eight carries during a 18-play, nine-minute scoring drive that put the game away.
Arizona contained him the in season finale. He gained 14 yards on 13 carries. Arizona lost on a last-second field goal.