Cardinals vs. Saints 2013 game preview: New Orleans aims for 3-0 start

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Saints started out 3-0 they won the Super Bowl in 2009.

The last time the Saints started a season 3-0 was in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl. It is still a bit early to declare a potential 3-0 Saints team as Super Bowl contenders with how hard they've had to work to win their two games, but no one will complain about starting out the season 3-0.

Carson Palmer got the first win of his Cardinals' career in Week 2, but needed all the help he could get from the rest of his team to secure it. Rashard Mendenhall rushed home the final points of the game with a shade under two minutes left to also give Cardinals coach Bruce Arians the first victory of his head coaching career.

Meet the Saints

The Saints are off to a good 2-0 start with a Week 1 win over their stiffest AFC South competition in the Atlanta Falcons. But the Saints needed a field goal from Garrett Hartley as time expired to get a, 16-14, win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Drew Brees was almost his standard self, throwing once again for over 300 yards and connecting with tight end Jimmy Graham for a touchdown. But he also threw two picks in the game, one that was returned for a touchdown.

The run game was also pretty nonexistent. Mark Ingram was stuffed a couple of times at the goal-line against the Buccaneers, and the Saints now, as a team, average 76.5 rushing yards per game -- good for 24th in the league. The defense for the Saints is helping the offense along as it works out its kinks. They held Josh Freeman to just 125 yards passing in Week 2 and are shaping up to be a tough test in the NFL.

Meet the Cardinals

Everyone chipped in for the Cardinals in their victory against the Lions in Week 2. Carson Palmer was forced to look elsewhere after Larry Fitzgerald went down with a hamstring injury. The veteran quarterback spread the wealth as much as possible with 10 different Cardinals registering a reception. The offensive line gave Palmer as much time as he needed. Although the Lions got a few rushes on Palmer, he was only sacked once.

Mendenhall had only 66 yards at the end of the game, but he made good use of the touches he had to get those yards. Mendenhall averaged 4.4 yards per carry, the third highest by a Cardinals rusher with at least 15 touches since the beginning of last season.

Local Takes: Saints

Ricky Tiernan from Canal Street Chronicles wants everyone to tone down the Mark Ingram hatred a tad.

The team can make excuses every season and after every game, but Mark Ingram is certainly not only to blame. Yet, how to use him is the question. He does what the smaller statured Sproles cannot do. He may not catch as well as Pierre Thomas, but he has a different, more bruising running style. Let's not forget the offensive line is either atrocious or decent. Not typically outstanding.

Local Takes: Cardinals

Jess Root with Revenge of the Birds liked what he saw from the Cardinals defense against the Lions last week.

What is most impressive is that, unlike last season, the Cardinals are defending the run well, even with lots of different looks, even with sometimes only two down linemen.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Canal Street ChroniclesRevenge of the Birds, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@SaintsCSC

@RevengeofBirds

@MikeTriplett - Saints beat reporter

@KentSomers - Cardinals beat reporter

Prediction

From the Week 3 picks:

How quickly could Rob Ryan fix the defense, after switching to a 3-4, was the biggest question for the Saints entering the season. That defense is a big part of why the Saints are 2-0 through the first two weeks of the season. Ryan's unit is holding opponents to an average of 15.6 points per game, despite a never-ending list of injuries. Small sample sizes help. So does a secondary that's keeping offenses to under 200 yards through the air.

The pick: New Orleans

Odds

The Saints opened as 7.5 point favorites, according to Oddsshark.com, and that now stretches anywhere from seven to nine point favorites over the Cardinals.

Next Week

The Saints get their first Monday Night Football appearance of the season when they host the Miami Dolphins. The Cardinals head a bit more southeast and take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road.

More from SB Nation NFL:

Week 3 picks: Beware of big spreads

An illustrated guide to playing cornerback

NFL hot seat watch: Ryan loses, Allen wins

Mike Holmgren blasts Trent Richardson trade

Browns trade Trent Richardson to Colts | What it means for Indy | Who wins?

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