Palmer, Cardinals visits Oakland for Sunday encounter

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND, Calif — As one of the two winless teams remaining in the NFL (Jacksonville is 0-6), the 0-5 Oakland Raiders will try to breakthrough into the win column again as they take on the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PDT.

The Silver and Black are coming off a hard-fought 31-28 loss to their AFC West rivals, the San Diego Chargers, at O.co Coliseum in Week 6 where the team played tough for all four quarters, but couldn’t give interim head coach Tony Sparano his first win after taking over for the fired Dennis Allen.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had his best game as a rookie, completing 16-of-25 passes for 282 yards, and four touchdowns, but it was his lone interception to Chargers rookie cornerback Jason  Verrett with 1:13 left to play that sealed Oakland’s 10th straight loss dating back to last season.

“He made a great play,” Carr said. “Brice [Butler] went up, he had it and the guy made a great play. Those things are going to happen. Yeah, it hurts. It hurts because that’s the way it ended.”

Defensively, Oakland got good games from linebacker Sio Moore, who led the team with seven tackles (three assisted), and strong safety Usama Young, who finished with six tackles.

“The goal is to win the game,”  linebacker Sio Moore said. “We didn’t do that. We didn’t execute in the last bit of plays when we needed to, how we needed to.

“It’s a very sick feeling because we let a team off the hook that’s not supposed to be let off the hook. They’re not what they’re acclaimed to be, whatever the situation is. I’m pretty pissed about it.”

Arizona (4-1), has gotten off to a hot start this season, sitting in first place in the ultra-competitive NFC West.

Former Raiders’ starting  quarterback Carson Palmer returns to the Black Hole to lead a Cardinals team that are coming off a 30-20 home victory against Washington in Week 6.

Palmer returned under center for Arizona last week after missing the previous five weeks with nerve issues in his throwing arm, and threw two touchdowns — one to Michael Floyd, the other to Larry Fitzgerald — to lead Arizona to victory.

“I’m not going to say I wasn’t nervous or wasn’t a little on edge,” Palmer said post game per the Associated Press, “just going into a game and really only have a quarter or maybe a half of a practice over the last five weeks.”

The Cardinals come in with some weapons that will pose some serious problems for the Raiders.

In addition to the emerging Floyd, and the Canton-bound Fitzgerald, Arizona has speedster in rookie wide receiver, John Brown. Brown leads the team with three touchdown catches.

Running back Andre Ellington has been a huge bright spot for the Cardinals this season. Ellington is a shifty runner who has a knack of ripping off big runs and with a Raiders team that is suspect against the run, Ellington is the wrong running back you want to face.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers leads a Cardinal defense that ranks 32nd against the pass, giving up 309 yards per game this season.

Powers is tied for the league lead in interceptions with three.

Players to Watch:

Oakland: WR, Andre Holmes. Carr appeared to have found a connection with Holmes. Carr found Holmes for a 77-yard touchdown on the Raiders’ third play of the game against San Diego. Holmes finished the game with four catches, for a game-high 121 yards, and could be emerging as the Raiders’ No. 1 wide receiver.

Arizona: WR, Larry Fitzgerald . Did it really take  five games for the Cardinals’ franchise leader in receptions (846), receiving yards (11,367), and touchdowns (87), to have a his best game of the year? The answer, yes. Fitzgerald finished with six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown in the win against Washington, after not finding the endzone.

Coming into the game, Fitzgerald was averaging just three catches and 41 yards per game and no touchdowns.

49ers try to keep momentum going against Cardinals

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 1:25 PM the San Francisco 49ers (3-2) will be facing off against the Arizona Cardinals (3-2) at Candlestick Park. Both squads have won two straight and are tied for second in the NFC West, one game back of the Seattle Seahawks and one game up on the St. Louis Rams.

Last week the Cardinals, thanks in large part to an impressive showing from their defense, defeated the Carolina Panthers 22-6. They racked up seven sacks, three interceptions, and a forced fumble. On that side of the ball they are led by Karlos Dansby, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, and shut-down corner Patrick Peterson. On offense they have struggled a bit this year, as QB Carson Palmer is very turnover prone, with nine interceptions and a fumble already, and WR Larry Fitzgerald has been hobbled by injuries and hasn’t looked like the big playmaker so many are used to seeing.

San Francisco is coming off an even more impressive win, a 34-3 drubbing of the Houston Texans. For the second straight week they relied heavily on their run game and stout defense. As a team they ran for 177 yards, 81 of those coming from Frank Gore, who also scored a touchdown. On defense they had three interceptions, two from Tramaine Brock, one of which he returned for a score, and another from Tony Jerod-Eddie. The newly dubbed Donte “Hitner” also chipped in a forced fumble.

This week the 49ers will likely try a similar approach, although they may run into more difficulties, as the Cardinals have allowed the third fewest yards on the ground so far this season. Against the pass they are ranked 19th, but San Francisco only managed 107 yards through the air last week. Colin Kaepernick has struggled since week one when asked to win the game with his arm, so the big question will be whether he can get something going if the run game is stifled.

Palmer has at least two turnovers in four of five games this season, and the 49ers are sure to try and keep the pressure on him to ensure that trend continues. Even if San Francisco’s offense runs into problems, their defense should keep them in the game and give them every chance to pull out a win in this one.

For the first time in a few weeks the injury news is largely good this week. Vernon Davis, one of the few reliable weapons Kaepernick has at his disposal, has resumed fully participating in practices. It was feared DL Ray McDonald had suffered a severe injury in the third quarter in last weeks win, but was diagnosed with just a right biceps strain. His status for this Sunday is in question, but he shouldn’t miss an extended period of time.

In more long-term news, Mario Manningham is expected to be ready to begin practicing with the team when first eligible in Week 7, and Michael Crabtree is on track to return in mid-November.

Finally, there was one minor transaction this week, as the revolving door that is the 49ers third-string QB keeps spinning. The recently signed John Skelton was waived, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who had recently been released by the Minnesota Vikings, was claimed off of waivers.