Can they pass their 1st road test? 3 questions and a prediction for Cardinals vs. Bills

Posted at 4:09 PM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 22:59:12-04

The 1-1 Arizona Cardinals will look to build upon last weekend's 40-7 stomping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they travel to Buffalo to face a desperate 0-2 Bills team.

Will the Cards shine or struggle in their first road game of the season? Here are three questions and a prediction for that game, which begins Sunday at 10 a.m.

1. Will Carson carve up the Bills?

The Bills are just one of seven teams without an interception on defense this season, and only six teams have yielded a worse passer rating than Buffalo has. Also, the Bills have allowed 9.4 yards per pass attempt; only the Raiders and Jets have allowed more.

All of this seems to paint a pretty picture for Carson Palmer. The 36-year-old Cards quarterback has thrown some passes that have made fans nervous, but he nonetheless has the NFL's fifth-best passer rating and has got to love his matchup in Buffalo in what's scheduled to be near-perfect 60-degree weather. Will he take advantage of the generous matchup?

2. Will the speedy Taylor-McCoy duo hurt the Cards?

The Cardinals were the NFL's sixth-best team against the run last season and have been nearly as good through two games this year. But Bills running back LeSean McCoy presents a different kind of challenge than the Cards have faced.

Like Cards running back David Johnson, McCoy is dangerous on the ground and through the air; through two games, he leads the Bills with eight receptions on nine targets from quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Speaking of Taylor: The sixth-year pro rushed for over 40 yards per game last season, the most among NFL quarterbacks. It looks like Taylor will be without his top wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, on Sunday, but will Taylor and McCoy make up for it by making the Cards pay on the ground?

3. Who will start opposite Patrick Peterson?

Coach Bruce Arians was intentionally vague when asked who the Cardinals' other starting cornerback will be Sunday.

There's a good chance, however, that the man starting opposite five-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson will be Marcus Cooper, who recorded two interceptions in his Cards debut last Sunday and returned one of those picks for a touchdown. 

The other option is rookie Brandon Williams, who has been shaky at best during his time on the field and was replaced by Cooper early in last Sunday's game. Regardless of who takes the field -- Williams, Cooper, or a combination of the two -- will they be able to help shut down a Bills offense that recorded passing plays of 84 and 71 yards in their previous game?


The Cards have all the momentum going into this game thanks to last weekend's route of Tampa Bay. But the Bills are at home and are a desperate team that have had three extra days to prepare for this game, thanks to its Thursday night matchup last week. 

Ultimately, the Cardinals likely have too many players at the skill positions for the Bills to keep up with for a full 60 minutes, and they're less likely to make crucial mistakes. That's why the Cards should come home with a 2-1 record -- even though Buffalo will give them all they can handle.

Cardinals 24, Bills 21