The Arizona Cardinals will be going against all odds tomorrow as they take on the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. The last time these two teams met in Foxborough, Tom Brady was injured and Matt Cassell led New England to a 47-7 stomping.
Kevin Kolb will likely be the starting quarterback this time around with John Skelton sidelined with a low ankle sprain. He, more than anyone else, will have to step up huge in order for the Arizona Cardinals to pull off a win on the road.
Personally, I am not looking for Kolb to do anything outstanding. The Patriots are going to put points on the board, despite how good or bad the Cardinals' defense plays. Kolb will need to manage the game and match their scoring output. Turnovers from misreads and taking multiple sacks are two big no-nos.
With that, the offensive line will need to give him time. We saw Kolb scramble around the pocket all preseason long, but in the final drive against the Seahawks, he looked composed and went through his progressions. That is something he will need to continue.
On the defensive side of the ball, it's all about covering Brady's two favorite weapons: Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. If Patrick Peterson plays (he is listed as questionable as of now), he should be able to shut down Brandon Lloyd. That leaves linebackers like Daryl Washington and the safeties to take Gronk and Hernandez out of the game. The Cardinals can't let those two dynamic players beat them.
Blitzing Brady is fine, but only in small doses. He can read a blitz coming with the best of them, call an audible and burn the Cardinals with a deep pass. When the Giants had great success in beating them last season, they usually dropped 7-8 players in coverage. I believe that is what the Cardinals should do as well, letting talented pass rushers in Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell get to Brady. Creating pressure without blitzing will be key.
If the Cardinals can accomplish all of this, along with a host of other things, they may be able to pull off a completely unforeseen victory. If not, we may be watching a repeat of 2008 all over again.