The Washington Redskins (6-4-1) will move on from Thursday's game against the Dallas Cowboys with a matchup next Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The Redskins-Cardinals rivalry dates back to 1932, when the Redskins were the Boston Braves and the Cardinals were the Chicago Cardinals. Over the years, the teams moved to different cities, but they always managed to link up on the football field, even becoming fierce rivals in the NFC East for many years.
It hasn't been quite the season the Cardinals envisioned following their trip to the NFC Championship Game this past January. The Cardinals are coming off a 30-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday and are 4-5-1 heading into their Week 12 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
Offensively, Arizona's led by veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, who is in his fourth season with the Cardinals. Palmer's completed nearly 62 percent of his passes on the season for 2,642 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Palmer, like Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, has a wealth of talent at his disposal, starting with running back David Johnson.
Johnson – a third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Northern Iowa – has quickly established himself as one of *the *premier offensive threats in the NFL. What makes Johnson so dangerous is his ability to not only grind up defenses on the ground, but also through the air.
Heading into Sunday's action, Johnson is third in the league in rushing yards (863) and second in rushing touchdowns (10). As far as where Johnson ranks among Arizona's vast wide receiving corps? He's second behind future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald in receiving yards (510).
The Redskins' defense will have a massive challenge on their hands next Sunday in trying to corral Johnson and limit any and all damage he's capable of dishing out.
The face of the Cardinals for the last 12 years has been, and will always be, Fitzgerald. Although his role in Arizona's offense has changed slightly since head coach Bruce Arians took over in 2013, Fitzgerald's propensity to make big plays and do what it takes to win haven't been altered one bit.
In 2015 Fitzgerald had a career jolt, hauling in 109 passes for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns. All those numbers came because Fitzgerald stayed healthy pretty much for the entire season. In 2016, Fitzgerald is once again playing at a high level, as he leads Arizona's offense in catches (74), receiving yards (749) and touchdowns (five).
Check out the top photos from the Washington Redskins' Week 6 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Whether he lines up out wide, or in the slot, look for Fitzgerald to be a major factor and focal point for Palmer.
Moving to Arizona's defense: they have a slew of players that love to thump – most notably defensive tackle Calais Campbell, middle linebacker Kevin Minter and dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon.
Campbell has always been an imposing figure, not only because he's 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, but because he uses his size to his maximum advantage when the football's snapped.
Campbell is having a Pro Bowl type season so far for the Cardinals, as he's racked up 33 tackles, three sacks, seven tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, one interception and five passes defensed. The offensive line will have quite a job on their hands in trying to contain Campbell's pass rush.
Minter and Bucannon are more than willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to make their presence felt, and more often than not, they do. Bucannon's the team's leading tackler with 72, while Minter is third on the team with 55.
The Cardinals made a huge splash in free agency when they acquired outside linebacker Chandler Jones during the offseason. Jones has been nothing short of spectacular for Arizona this season, as he's been a huge disruption for opposing offenses.
Jones is currently tied for seventh in the league in sacks with 8.0, so one of the major keys to victory next Sunday will be keeping Jones at bay as much as possible.
Arizona's secondary is stacked with Pro Bowl talent as well, as cornerback Patrick Peterson and safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Tony Jefferson are all playing at an extremely high level.
Peterson is similar to Redskins cornerback Josh Norman in that he's capable of shutting down one side of the field all on his own, while Mathieu and Jefferson play lights out football beside and around him.
Sunday's meeting in Glendale will be the 123rd between the Redskins and Cardinals, with their most recent meeting occurring in that very building back on Oct. 12, 2014 – a game the Cardinals won 30-20. Washington holds a 75-45-2 advantage all-time in the series.