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Know Your Enemy: The Arizona Cardinals Part I

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Pictured: Kevin Kolb remembers that he left his cottage cheese halftime snack in his car.
Pictured: Kevin Kolb remembers that he left his cottage cheese halftime snack in his car.

I traded scouting reports with Revenge of the Birds' Jess Root this week, and here's what he had to say about his team and this week's matchup..

DK: What is the mood like in Arizona about this Cardinals team? Do fans believe the NFC West is theirs for the taking again, or are the expectations more tempered?

JR: Since the start of camp, there has been a tempered enthusiasm that is just waiting to boil over into pure hysteria. Phoenix is a football town. At the Red and White practice during training camp, 13,000 people showed up -- which is more than showed up after the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl. Part of that (OK, maybe a lot) was the lockout and just a sort of starvation reaction to having football back.

Going back to the point, fans feel that the Cards can win the West, but are not quite sure they will. But there is optimism everywhere.

DK: Are Cardinals fans loving the acquisition of Kevin Kolb? What's the general consensus on how much the organization gave up to get him? Has he met fans' expectations thus far? Anything worrisome about his play?

JR: When the trade happened, there was definitely some resentment for what the team traded. However, no one seems to be talking about that anymore. Kolb has won people over. Seeing big plays in the passing game (already four plays of over 40 yards this year when there was only one all last season) has people thrilled again.

After two regular season games, the only thing that people have been concerned about how he will sometimes leave the pocket too quickly looking for a busted play to happen. He has been successful at it and even works on it during practice. But truthfully, he has been a football-godsend.

DK: What are the Cardinals biggest strengths and weaknesses?

JR: Offensively, they are fine. They can move the ball down the field rushing or passing. Larry Fitzgerald is a force. Beanie Wells is running better than he ever has. Kolb puts the ball in the right place.

Defensively, they do well in the red zone. For some reason, they can tighten it down and look decent.

Special teams has no issues. The return game is dangerous with LaRod Stephens Howling doing kickoff returns and Patrick Peterson returning punts. Peterson took one to the end zone in Week 1 and could have pulled off a DeSean Jackson finish last week against the Redskins had he gotten past the punter. It was really that close.

The team's biggest weaknesses are the pass rush, mistakes in the secondary (and a lack of a pass rush exacerbates that problem) and blocking on the edges.

DK: Which under-the-radar players are you most excited about? Everyone knows about Kolb, Fitz, Patrick Peterson and Beanie, but are there any guys you'd list as sleepers to really break out this year?

JR: There are a couple of players, both on defense. One is linebacker Daryl Washington, who was last year's second round pick out of TCU. He has been a force, but missed last week because of an injury. Hopefully he plays on Sunday. Likewise, lost in the shuffle of how bad the Cardinals' pass defense has been is the play of A.J. Jefferson.

He is a second-year player who went undrafted in 2010. He won the starting job with very good play in the preseason and in camp. Even the first two weeks of the season he has been pretty good. He isn't a guy that quarterbacks are just going to be able to pick on.

DK: What's your prediction for this week?

Arizona bounces back and benefits from playing against Tarvaris Jackson. He is not good enough to torch the secondary at the same rate of Cam Newton or Rex Grossman. Seattle's offense will not be able to generate enough points and the Arizona offense moves the ball well. 27-13 Arizona.

Thanks again to Jess Root for taking the time to answer my questions!!