Two Arizona Cardinals games in the same week? Can our hearts take it? We’ll know Friday morning. In this Thursday Night Football showdown the Cardiac Cardinals face-off with the San Fransisco 49ers in what some people (mainly me) are calling the make or break game of the Cardinals 2016 season. So let’s break down the keys to the game and what you’ll need to be watching for.
Can Drew Stanton be a good game manager and not turn the ball over?
With Carson Palmer currently recovering from a concussion QB2 Drew Stanton is taking the reins on a short week to prepare for another division rival that always plays tough when they face the Cardinals. Drew Stanton had the opportunity to put the team on his back and get the Cardinals into the end zone to get a win, but the end result was an interception and then a loss. This week Stanton needs to do his best Alex Smith impression and focus on the run and occasionally throw a pass to keep the 49ers honest.
Can the running game carry the team this week?
David Johnson now sits alone at the top of the Running Back depth chart with Chris Johnson now going to the injured reserve. This being the week when the Cardinals needed the 1A/1B combo to grind out a win and take some pressure off of journeyman quarterback Drew Stanton. Look for David Johnson, Andre Ellington, and even Stepfan Taylor to be used heavily this week against the 49ers porous defense. It’s good to know they’re worse against the run than the red birds have been this year.
Can the Cardinals contain Carlos Hyde
The Cardinals were able to keep Todd Gurley in check in week 4 but it was at the cost of making Los Angeles Rams WR Brian Quick seem like a top tier receiving option. His two touchdown game was a first for him while going up against CB Marcus Cooper. It was a physical mismatch that resulted in two TDs and helped the Rams secure the win. This week the two main weapons the 49ers will try to employ are resurgent running back Carlos Hyde and Blaine Gabbert, a mobile enough QB, who is doing an okay job in Chip Kelly’s offense.
This is the chance to get to 2-3 rather than end this week 1-4. If the Cardinals lose this game I’m going to ask Seth to start up the mock draft posts next week so we can all start talking about which QBOTF the Cardinals will be taking in their top 6 spot. But before we go that far, let’s give them one last chance to get a win!
What other keys to the game are there?