As the Arizona Cardinals take on the Buffalo Bills later today at University of Phoenix Stadium, there are a few things that we, as fans, need to keep our eyes on. How the quarterbacks play against two vastly improved defenses will be important. Neither one of these guys could be considered "elite" by any stretch of the imagination, but they are both smart quarterbacks that can beat you if given the chance.
If Kevin Kolb can get protection in the pocket, he should be able to rip a struggling Bills secondary apart. The thing is, that is a big "if". Over the past two games, the offensive line of the Arizona Cardinals has allowed 17 sacks, many of them coming from the tackles (D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie) as well as the right guard, Adam Snyder. Pass protection will be key against talented pass rushers like Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and former first round draft pick, Marcell Dareus.
Can Ryan Fitzpatrick find a hole in the defense much like Sam Bradford did a week and a half ago? One of his favorite targets, Steve Johnson, will be under tight wraps as he squares off against sophomore sensation, Patrick Peterson. This will be an enticing matchup to keep an eye on as the day wears on.
The Bills will be much more inclined to hand the ball off to both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. As one of the premiere running back tandems in the league, both Spiller and Jackson can take the ball for huge gains. Will the run blocking be there against a very talented defensive line? We will find out.
For me, the biggest matchup is between D'Anthony Batiste and Mario Williams. If Batiste can contain Williams even a little bit, the Cardinals should win this game. He is the biggest difference maker on the Buffalo defense and if he can be held back even just a little bit, the Cardinals will have success getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and the other talented set of receivers that they possess. While I don't expect Batiste to win this battle, I do expect him to get chip blocks from the tight ends and running backs quite often. He will need the assistance.
The key to victory for the Cardinals will be in stopping the Bills' run game. Putting the ball in Fitzpatrick's hands would be ideal, as he has struggled monumentally this season. If that happens, I have no doubt that Buffalo will be headed towards another embarrassing defeat.