Tampa Bay Vs Arizona – A Must Win in the Desert

Carson Palmer_Arizona Cardinals.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the proverbial “0-2″, and the 88% of teams not making the playoffs that go with it.

While this is not a death sentence, it is still a 6 foot type of hole that one does not want to find one’s self in. And this is especially true when the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson are within the division.

So please, pardon my french when I call this game a must win, because in all sincerity, the Seahawks (1-0) are playing the Rams on Sunday. If you watched the Rams play on Monday Night Football, you know what I’m talking about.

But enough of that hoopla, let’s talk about this week’s match up.


The Bucs have already won on the road against the Atlanta Falcons in week 1.

Jameis Winston threw for 4 TDs, 281 yards, posted a QBR of 91.8, and completed 23 of 32 passes.

99 of those yards went to Mike Evans, along with a TD. Many are speculating that Mike Evans may be covered primarily by Patrick Peterson, but we’ll see what happens. On the ground, it’s the Doug Martin show for Tampa Bay. Last week Martin only managed 62 yards on 18 carries (3.4 ypc), but he also had 34 yards receiving on 5 receptions. The Cardinals will have to account for Doug Martin at all times, particularly when Arizona blitzes.

On defense Tampa Bay played the run extremely well, limiting the Falcon running backs to 42 yards on 18 carries, and zero runs of 10+ yards. The Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander will be one to watch on Sunday, whether it’s sacks or tackles for a loss, he is trying to make his money in the back field.

The Tampa Bay secondary however, might be where Arizona can do the most damage. The Buccaneers gave up 334 yards via Matty Ice last Sunday. Four different receivers went for more than 50 yards. A big day may be had for the Arizona trio, and the man known as Carson Palmer.

Bruce Arians HC Cardinals Melissa Mahler Pro Player Insider

Stick to the plan man:

Arizona and Bruce Arians will be tempted to throw deep often in this game, but the truth is the Cardinals are at their best when they run a balanced offense. Last week the Cardinals handed it off for a total of 17 times. Arizona basically doesn’t lose when they run for 100+ yards, I’d look for David Johnson and Chris Johnson to get 20+ carries this weekend, even if just to keep the defense honest.


On defense the Cardinals will have to improve on the 3rd down plays, and get off the field. The Patriots went 10 for 16 on third down vs Arizona. Not only did this put points on the board, New England also dominated the time of possession.

Also, some pressure on Jameis Winston wouldn’t hurt. The Cardinals secondary feasted off of pressure in 2015, not sacks, but quarterback pressure. Arizona’s 19 interceptions was good for 4th best in the League.

One area of concern this week will again be the play of rookie (CB) Brandon Williams. This cat is physically talented enough to do the job, but the mental lapses that come with every rookie (especially at CB) might be targeted by Tampa Bay, especially with Sir Patrick Peterson hanging out on the other side.

Another area of concern will be the Cardinals punting/kicking game. (P) Drew Butler suffered bad sprain in last week’s outing, but he practiced all week. As far as field goals go, I’m not worried about Chandler Catanzaro. It was just a bad snap, a bad snap that happened at the worst possible time.

Last but not least we have the offensive line, I’m not sure if Evan Mathis will be a go this week, it’s one of those game time decision deals. But I believe (G) (T) (C) Earl Watford can step in, if need be, and do a solid job.



Whoever wants this game more will win. Whoever makes the least mistakes will win. The Cardinals claim to have a different energy this week, a new found focus if you will. I hope so. Because starting out 0-2 in this division smells like a wild card birth at best.

I see the Cardinals playing their best football this week. They are just too loaded with talent and good coaching to drop two in a row at home. But as they learned last week, all four quarters matter, and in most cases so does every play. I’d bet a million Bucs that the Cardinals feel the same way.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment here or hit me up on twitter at @ShawnRivard777 .

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