New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals: Key Match-Ups to Watch

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Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) hurdles New Orleans Saints defensive back Delvin Breaux (40) during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Saints pass defense vs the Cardinals wide receivers

Entering the 2016 season, many believed that it was the Arizona Cardinals who possessed the finest receiving corps in the NFL, with Larry Fitzgerald, along with former #1 draft pick Malcolm Floyd to couple with deep threats John Brown and JJ Nelson.

However, it’s only been Fitzgerald who has shown any consistency this season, with 91 receptions for 892 yards and 5 scores. Fitzgerald, a likely future Hall of Famer, remains nearly unstoppable near the goal line, and is as good a 3rd down target as there is in the league.

Delvin Breaux, if healthy, will most likely cover Fitzgerald often. Breaux has had what can only be described as a hard luck season; riddled with injuries, plagued by questionable penalty calls, and having the misfortune of guarding some of the best wide receivers in the league while not at 100% physically.

Michael Floyd, the team’s 3rd leading receiver; was released by the Cardinals on Wednesday following a DUI arrest on Monday, leaving an underachieving unit now somewhat shorthanded. Brown and Nelson have been maddeningly inconsistent, but are still terrific deep threats for quarterback Carson Palmer.

If Saints rookie free safety Vonn Bell has had a major weakness, it is that he has had moments of miscommunication that have led to major coverage breakdowns down the field. Such a mistake will lead directly to a touchdown against an Arizona club that loves the deep ball.

The Saints secondary, largely undermanned all year because of injury and lack of quality depth, actually fared quite well against the Bucs last Sunday, despite the four game suspension of talented safety Kenny Vaccaro.

Vaccaro’s absence might very well be more crippling this week against this Cardinals receiving corps, if the New Orleans pass rush fails to generate pressure on Carson Palmer.

Palmer has struggled this season, only completing around 61% of his passes and has thrown 13 interceptions. He has also been sacked 38 times, which means a vastly improved Saints pass rush may very well be the difference-maker in this game.