Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs opponent preview: Cardinals, Week 2

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When they play: Week 2 (Sept. 18) in Arizona

2015 record: 13-3, won NFC West, lost 49-15 to Panthers in NFC title game.

Last time vs. Bucs: The Cardinals beat the Bucs 13-10 in 2013 in Tampa. Down 10-0 in the fourth quarter, Arizona rallied back and won on a Jay Feely field goal with 1:29 left.

2016 outlook: When we last saw Arizona, the Cardinals had seven turnovers — six from QB Carson Palmer — in a 49-15 loss to the Panthers in the NFC title game. Palmer, who threw 11 INTs in 16 regular-season games, had six in two playoff games.

Player to watch: Is David Johnson ready to become a top-tier running back in his second season? He rushed for 388 yards in a three-game stretch in December, including 187 yards and three touchdowns in a win against the Eagles. He was mortal in the playoffs, however, held to a combined 95 yards on 30 carries in two postseason games.

Rookie to watch: First-round DT Robert Nkemdiche joins a deep and talented defensive line, but he'll get enough snaps to flash his pass-rush skills. His off-field issues hurt him in the draft, but his talent on the field isn't questioned at all.

Key matchup: Palmer is 36, but Arizona has done a good job of protecting him —-- only three teams in the NFL gave up fewer sacks than the Cards' 27 allowed. They'll have an unproven right tackle in former Gators tackle D.J. Humphries, who didn't play at all as a first-round rookie last season. Can the Bucs' pass rush be disruptive enough to get to Palmer?

Familiar face: Safety D.J. Swearinger, cut loose by the Bucs in the middle of last season, landed on his feet with Arizona and could be a starting safety in one of the NFL's best secondaries. USF and Bucs alum Mike Jenkins is out for the year with an knee injury.

Cool stat: Arizona's defense finished second in the NFL with 33 takeaways (behind Carolina), with 19 INTs and 14 fumbles recovered. How crucial were takeaways for the Cards? They went 13-0 when they had a takeaway, 0-3 without; on offense, they went 11-0 with two turnovers or less, 2-3 when they had three or more.

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