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After dropping their fourth straight game to start the season, the Arizona Cardinals come into Week 5 with more optimism than at any point this year. The Red Birds travel out to San Francisco to battle the struggling 49ers. Entering this game at 1-3 the Niners are just as desperate as for a win after losing their star quarterback Jimmy Garapollo for the season with a torn ACL.

What to Watch For: Renewed Hope

Last week ended in heartbreaking fashion for Arizona with a missed field goal near the end of regulation dashing the hopes for victory against Seattle.

Once again, Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy showed his conservative playcalling, and it may have cost Arizona the game. On 3rd-and-6 late in the fourth quarter driving down the field, he dialed up the most creative play he could think of: a run up the gut for zero yards.

So why the hope? Josh Rosen.

In his first game of action, he showed why he was drafted in the first round. From his beautiful touchdown pass to his ability to stay in the pocket against a fierce pass rush, he demonstrated his capability to lead this franchise back to prominence. Sure, 180 yards isn’t going to impress anyone (outside of Dak Prescott), but anyone who watched the game saw more than the stats show.

Larry Fitzgerald should continue heating up, and Chad Williams looks like he has a bright future in this league, as well. Christian Kirk and Rosen have had great chemistry together in practice, so the receiving corps will not be the issue for Arizona this week.

What to Watch For: Break the Streak

No one has a goal of beginning a season 0-4. New Head Coach Steve Wilks still has the all-consuming of earning his first win.

This is Arizona’s best chance this season to get on the board. The 49ers are missing their star quarterback, and their defense hasn’t generated as much pressure as coach Kyle Shanahan had imagined.

Yet the 49ers proved to still be a formidable opponent, narrowly losing on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. Even with backup C.J. Beathard taking control of the offense, this team is still competitive.

Much of that can be attributed to Shanahan’s genius in scheming and generating favorable matchups. Arizona’s defense has the pieces to stifle San Francisco’s offense, but they must play disciplined, which has been an issue so far this season.

A win would be huge. Wilks’ first win, Rosen’s first win, and something to finally cheer about for Arizona. The playoffs are obviously not where the Cards are headed this season, but moving in the right direction with a true franchise quarterback can do a lot for a fanbase.

What to Watch For: Key Matchups

David Johnson Vs. The World

A strong running game is a young passer’s best friend. If McCoy can finally dial up a sensible game plan, David Johnson can go off against this defense. The 49ers have an okay pass rush but are liable to get gashed in the run game. This should be the game Johnson gets going.

Josh Rosen Vs. Robert Saleh

Robert Saleh isn’t yet a household name, but the defensive coordinator has done great work with Jacksonville’s linebackers the last few years. It’s his job to try to confuse the rookie with exotic looks, but Rosen will be up to the task. Saleh isn’t quite yet able to fully take advantage of his schemes with his current personnel, so this is the perfect time to steal one from under him.

Mike McCoy Vs. Himself

This is only a half-joke. He is a conundrum.

In conclusion, this is its best chance for Arizona to come out on top since last season. Wilks may not quite be on the hot seat, but no 0-5 team’s coach can ever be comfortable. Put that “1” in the win column and continue building for the future of this team. The talent is there, the time is now.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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