Cardinals: Texas Hold 'Em
By Jon Matthews
The bye week is over, and this is an interesting situation for the Cardinals. Was the bye week something they needed? Or were the Cards just hitting their stride? There's a lot to see this weekend. The Texans are rolling into the desert this Sunday and we don't know what to expect.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak is still sidelined after suffering a half-stroke last week. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips will serve as interim coach. Even though Phillips is wearing the big headset, The Houston Chronicle reports that Rick Dennison is expected to call the plays on offense. Case Keenum has been named the starter, while Matt Schaub sits on the pine licking his chops for another opportunity. They lost two straight with Keenum as the starter, but both losses were by three points or less. Running back Arian Foster is out for this game, which should relieve some pressure on the Cardinals' front seven. However, Foster's replacement, Ben Tate, is nothing to overlook.
This a a fight-or-flight game for the Cardinals. They need this win if they believe they can still make the playoffs. Carson Palmer needs to be able to build on his passer rating from his previous game against the Falcons. Unfortunately, he's about to go against the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Despite Andre Ellington becoming the first 100-yard rusher for the Cards this season, Rashard Mendenahll is penciled in to start. Mendenhall missed Week 8 with a lingering toe injury, but hopes to come back and make an impact. Another bad showing from him may equal a benching or, at the very least, his carries should dip significantly. We always need to look out for Larry Fitzgerald. He's been boom-or-bust this season, while playing injured for the past few weeks.
Will Palmer try to put pressure on the defense with the deep ball? Will JJ Watt disrupt the line and Palmer's rhythm? Yes, there's lots to see in this matchup. The Cardinals kickoff against the Texans Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on CBS.