The Washington Redskins are headed to Glendale to take on the Arizona Cardinals in the first ever game at State Farm Stadium. Ok, maybe that sounded a little more exciting than it actually is – it’s the same stadium the Cardinals have played in since 2006, but was formerly known as the University of Phoenix Stadium until State Farm bought the naming rights just last week.
Arizona and Washington will be introducing their new quarterbacks in Sam Bradford and Alex Smith. Both veteran QBs have continued to be paid handsomely for their services, but while receiving those big game checks they have also been passed off as they guys who couldn’t get it done for much of their careers. Both quarterbacks will look to revive their careers with major question marks within their supporting cast. Outside of future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald, there’s not another receiver on either team’s roster who has ever had 1,000-yard season. In fact, many of them are so young they don’t even have 1,000 yards in their career.
What both teams do have are elite running backs. After a season ending injury to second round draft pick, Derrius Guice, the Redskins went out and signed Adrian Peterson. Peterson had a short stint in Arizona last season and showed flashes of his old self before being placed on the injured reserve due to a neck injury. He too will look to revive his career with his newfound home. With 37 yards rushing this Sunday, Peterson will move into 10th place on the all-time rushing list, surpassing Marshall Faulk and Jim Brown.
On the home sidelines stands David Johnson, an elite running back who hopes to crack the top 10 in rushing himself one day. He too returns from a season ending injury and still wants to prove that his 2,118 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016 were not a fluke. His new Head Coach, Steve Wilks, has made it clear that he intends to run the ball, and run it often.
- Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones vs Redskins left tackle Trent Williams – Jones led the NFL in sacks last season and Williams is one of the most dominant offensive lineman in the NFL. Last season Trent played 10 games with a torn tendon in his knee and still only gave up two sacks.
- Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald vs Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. Last season Norman occasionally shadowed opposing team’s best receiver. It’s unknown if that will occur on Sunday but anytime these two go heads up it’s a great show.
- David Johnson vs Redskins rush defense – Johnson could be in for a big day as the Redskins ranked dead last in rush defense just a year ago. Washington spent their 2018 first round pick on defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne to address the issue so it will be interesting to see how the battle in the trenches goes. The last time Johnson faced the Redskins in 2016 he rushed 18 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. He also added 9 receptions for 91 yards and another score.
- Adrian Peterson vs Cardinals rush defense – Peterson continued to show flashes of his Minnesota days this preseason, but he will be up against a defense that finished sixth against the rush last year. The Cardinals will also be adding an additional down lineman with the new 4-3 scheme that Coach Wilks brought with him.
- Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford vs Redskins quarterback Alex Smith – granted, these two won’t be on the field at the same time actually dueling each other, but the winning quarterback will likely be the one who makes the fewest mistakes. Both quarterbacks share nearly identical career completion percentages at 62.5% for Sam, and 62.4% for Alex. Neither QB takes much risk, so one turnover could be a major advantage.
This will be the third straight year the Cardinals and Redskins have faced off with the teams splitting victories in their last two matchups. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25pm Arizona Time this Sunday, September 9th, 2018.
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