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49ers-Cardinals preview: Talking Carson Palmer, Jaron Brown, predictions

We break down the Arizona Cardinals with the folks from Revenge of the Birds.

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals meet up on Thursday, with very little turnaround time. Even with the truncated schedule, I wanted to make sure we learn what we can about the Cardinals. We took a few minutes to chat with Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds. The Cardinals were viewed as a division contender, but they are off to an ugly start. I figured it might help to get an idea of what exactly is going on down in Glendale. Check out my answers to their questions over at Revenge of the Birds.

Niners Nation: What the hell is going on with the Cardinals? I can't think of any other way to put it.

Revenge of the Birds: It simply comes down to the reality that the team is not as good as they think they are. Whether that means they cannot reach the heights that were expected is a different answer, but as of 4 games into the 2016 season, the easiest answer is this iteration of the Arizona Cardinals is not good enough just to show up. They have been unsuccessful in at a minimum of two facets of every game in losses: Game one they struggled to stop a Jimmy Garoppolo led Pats offense and botched multiple special teams assignments. Game three the offense couldn't get going, Carson Palmer forced the issue and became a mediocre quarterback and the defense couldn't stop the rushing attack of the Bills. Game four, again, the offense stunk, and the special teams couldn't contain Tavon Austin, giving the Rams a short field on their game winning touchdown drive. You lose two out of the three facets of the game, you'll likely lose most games.

NN: With Carson Palmer in the concussion protocol, it looks like Drew Stanton is the likely starter on Thursday. He struggled against the Rams, but appears to have had some decent games in relief. What does this mean for the game plan and the pass catchers?

RotB: There is a portion of people that believe in Drew Stanton, luckily for the team they all reside in that locker/facility. No fan thinks this is going to go well if they just transition the Carson Palmer-led game-plans to Drew Stanton. The idea is that Stanton can hold down the fort if they lean on their incredible talent at running back, especially if Chris Johnson is healthy, and let Stanton make throws only when necessary.

NN: Right now, what are the strengths and weaknesses on defense?

RotB: Depends on the game. They have shut down the run against the New England and Los Angeles... And were a disaster against Buffalo. In the passing game, they shut down Buffalo, were carved up by New England and gave up big plays to Los Angeles.

The strength is the secondary, but Marcus Cooper was exposed a little bit against the Rams, while Tyrann Mathieu is still only about 75% of the player we expect to see out there.

Chandler Jones and Markus Golden have done a great job rushing the passer, but the overall impact has been basically nada.

NN: Who would be an under the radar player on offense and one on defense we should keep an eye on this Thursday?

RotB: Jaron Brown has been extremely good, especially with the bad performance of Michael Floyd for most of the season. He will be closer to the Cardinals number three receiver than their number four if Floyd starts slow again.

Defensively, is Tony Jefferson well known yet? I mean, the NFL has not liked this guy since he declared early for the NFL draft, but all he's done is make plays every year. He isn't a big hitter, he's not a great coverage guy, but he is just a player in position to make plays every single down.

NN: What do the Cardinals have to do to win this game? What would be the reasons for another loss?

RotB: Come out like they are desperate. If we had this conversations four week ago, I think we both would be asking the question, can the 49ers hang with Arizona for four quarters? Now the question is simply, will Arizona look to translate their abilities on paper onto the field, or will they let an inferior team, again on paper, hang around the first half and then the Cardinals tighten up because they are supposed to be winning while the 49ers are loose and having fun hanging around the "best team in the NFC".

The longer Arizona let's teams hang around, the more likely they are to lose, especially without Palmer.