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Week 11 Bengals at Cardinals: 5 key Cardinals to watch for against Bengals

The big story is "The Quarterback Who Quit" facing the Bengals for a second time after demanding to get traded out of Cincy, but this is also a clash between two division leaders and Super Bowl contenders

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After losing to the Texans on Monday Night Football, Cincinnati will try to bounce back on Sunday Night Football in Arizona, but it will be a hard task. The Andy-lievers face "The Quarterback Who Quit" for the second time since he was traded, and it feels like more than a game. But not only do the Bengals get to challenge their former ace, the Cardinals are a great team that sit a top of the NFC West at 7-2 and look like one of the strongest Super Bowl contenders in the NFL.

Week 10 game was not pretty for Marvin Lewis, Hue Jackson, Andy Dalton, A.J. Green or Tyler Eifert, but there is room for hope:

Arizona is an uncommon team in Joe Goodberry's system - a rival that the Bengals have not played earlier this season or the year before - and there is proof that Cincinnati's offense fares better against them than it does against common teams, such as Pittsburgh or Houston in the 2015 season.

Nonetheless the Cardinals look great, and they just beat the Seahawks in Seattle. Head coach Bruce Arians is one of the best in the game and their quarterback, The Quarterback Who Quit, is having a terrific year. So let's go with our list of players to watch for on Sunday:

1) Carson Palmer

Because of course. This is MORE THAN A GAME. He quit on the Bengals. He is also pretty good, 23 touchdown passes for only 7 interceptions and playing his best football since 2005 - that hurt. Palmer has bonded with Arians, and they look like a match in heaven. They love taking shots and Dre Kirkpatrick is going to have fun trying to replicate his nice outing from Monday's game.

The 35-year-old play-caller is even showing great athleticism for a dude with multiple ACL injuries in his career.


He can handle the defenses' pressures and keeps his eyes downfield. He's playing like one of the smartest quarterback in the NFL, and playing behind a very solid offensive line. If he has the right matchup and likes what he sees - single-high safety - watch out for the "home run".


They don't shy away from any defender, as they targeted Richard Sherman often on Sunday. They play lots of bunches and trips and Palmer has an all-time great in Larry Fitzgerald as well as two good receivers in Michael Floyd and John Brown, who are taking turns as designated deep threats.


2) Larry Fitzgerald

This guy is inmortal. He has a catch in 179 consecutive games, and during some of those games, there was a guy named John Skelton at quarterback. A future Hall of Famer, he has six games of at least 87 yards thus far this season, not too shabby for a 32-year-old wide out. Fitzgerald is really happy with Palmer in Arizona.

He is a nightmare for a zone defense, and Cincy plays a lot of zone defense.


But he is also the ultimate pro, and a very nice guy. And also a great team player. That play came against Kam Chancellor:


3) Jermaine Gresham

The former Bengals superstar tight end had the makings of an elite player but turned out to be a disappointment. He is the undisputed number one inside for the Cardinals, and he caught his first touchdown of the season last week.


He is happy in Glendale and the Bengals are happy with his replacement, Tyler Eifert. Arizona is using him a bit more of late and Gresham is still a huge target at 6'5". He has all the tools - other than good ball skills - to be great, and still nobody misses him in Cincinnati.

4) Patrick Peterson

Many believe he is the most overrated cornerback in the NFL, but what the Texans showed on Monday is how to double A.J. Green and put your best man on Marvin Jones. We could have some fun in Arizona with the Bengals going after Peterson, something the Seahawks avoided, throwing only once at him.

He credits film study and weight loss for the great season he is having, after a poor 2014. The big 6-1 defender has elite ball skills and could cause trouble for the Bengals if they make any mistakes.


The two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler leads a very opportunistic secondary that also includes Jerraud Powers, Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson and stud safety Tyrann Mathieu. They lead the NFL with 14 interceptions already, and as their offense put up a lot of points the other teams are pressured to keep up the pace and throw a lot.

5) Deone Bucannon

Bucanon is what the Bengals thought they would get from Emmanuel Lamur, a nickel safety, able to play linebacker and be good against the run and in coverage. The second-year player out of Washington State is one of the keys to Arizona's success. "He's extremely fast and physical" in head coach Bruce Arians' words.

At 6'1" he is undersized for the inside linebacker position but he makes up for it with great play reading and quick reaction, and also superb tackling.

I am not forgetting about Calais Campbell or Mathieu, but Buccanon is going to be key to stopping Bernard, Hill and Eifert.


I can't wait for this game to start, it is going to be a clash of great, balanced teams. You won't want to miss the action.