The New Orleans Saints return home after two straight road games this afternoon to host the Arizona Cardinals. The Saints enter this game with a 6-1 record and winners of five straight, all without injured quarterback Drew Brees. The Cardinals come into the game with a 3-3-1 mark, but boast a three game winning streak themselves. This is the 31st game between the Saints and the Cardinals franchise, with both teams winning 15 of the previous contests. New Orleans does own an 8-4 advantage over the Cardinals at home, and have defeated Arizona the last four times they’ve played in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
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The Cardinals franchise was one of the original NFL teams in 1920, known then as the Chicago Cardinals. They moved to St. Louis in 1960, where they would remain until moving to Phoenix, Arizona in 1988. The Saints would be 5-10 against the St. Louis Cardinals, losing the first three times they’d play and dropping 8 of their first 10 games against them. The first meeting between the two franchises was in the Saints inaugural season of 1967 on December 3 in St. Louis. New Orleans would force five St. Louis turnovers on the day, but couldn’t do enough offensively themselves in a 31-20 loss. The two would be in the same division for one year, when the Saints were moved to the NFL’s Century Division in 1968. The first time they’d meet the Cardinals at home would be on September 29 of that season. New Orleans would hold a lead throughout the game that day, and outgain St. Louis 323-219 in total yardage. A 4th quarter touchdown run by the Cardinals’ Willis Crenshaw however, would give St. Louis a 21-20 win.
New Orleans would finally defeat the Cardinals on November 2, 1969 in St. Louis. The Saints had started that season 0-6, but rolled up 508 yards during a shootout. New Orleans quarterback Billy Kilmer threw for 345 yards and six touchdown passes, and the Saints held on for a 51-42 victory. Kilmer’s 6 passing scores were a franchise record that stood until 2015, when current Saints quarterback Drew Brees tossed 7 scores in a victory over the New York Giants. New Orleans would finally get a home win over the Cardinals on December 8, 1974 in Tulane Stadium. There was no shootout this time, as a defensive battle would end with a 14-0 Saints win. It would be the only shutout in the 30 game history between the Saints and Cardinals. That would also be the final home game the Saints would play at Tulane, moving into the Superdome the following season. They wouldn’t face the Cardinals under the dome until the 1980 season though. On October 5 of that year, the Saints offense was held to a pathetic 80 yards and 3 first downs as they were pounded by St. Louis 40-7.
The Cardinals would move to Arizona after the 1987 season, playing as the Phoenix Cardinals until 1993 and Arizona Cardinals since. The Saints are 10-5 against the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, including a 5-1 home record against them. They wouldn’t play the Cardinals under the dome after their relocation though until September 23, 1990. The Saints would lose their first two contests to begin that year, but got 99 yards rushing and three touchdowns from running back Rueben Mayes in a 28-7 win. Phoenix would defeat the Saints the next time they’d meet in New Orleans, outgaining them 432 yards to 218 in a 28-7 victory early in the 1996 season. It would be the last time the Cardinals would notch a win in the Superdome. After a 1997 win over the the Cards in the Dome, New Orleans would play the Cardinals in Arizona the next three times they’d meet, not hosting them again until the 2007 season.
Saints coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees joined the Saints in 2006. They are 4-2 against Arizona, and 3-0 against them at home. The first time they would face the Cardinals would be a home meeting on December 16, 2007. Brees would complete 26 of his 30 pass attempts that day for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. Eight of those passes were to receiver Marques Colston, who went for 114 yards and scored once in the 31-24 Saints victory.
The Saints defense has been playing at an elite level, shutting down opposing rushing games and bottling up the passing attack with a devastating defensive line and suffocating coverage. New Orleans should be able to heavily pressure Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, and shut down their running game that will be without injured back David Johnson. The Saints will disguise their coverage packages in hopes of confusing Murray and creating turnovers. The Cardinals come in with a three game winning streak. It was against the Bengals, Falcons, and Giants though; teams who have a combined 3-18 record. They now face a powerhouse New Orleans team that has outplayed their opponents in every phase of the game.
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