The time is closely approaching for the Arizona Cardinals to once again fight with their backs against the wall.
Two weeks ago, the Cardinals entered a three-game stretch against their NFC West opponents needing to go 2-1 to keep their postseason hopes alive.
After losing against the Seahawks, a big win was picked up last week against the Rams to put Arizona down to a Monday Night Football showdown in Mexico City against the San Francisco 49ers.
A win would again instill hopes of a potential postseason appearance as the final stretch of the season comes to daylight. A loss would drive the nail in Arizona's coffin further than it already is.
It's also a big matchup for the 49ers, as a loss would put the Cardinals even on wins with one game in hand (Arizona hasn't seen their bye week just yet).
Under the bright lights of Estadio Azteca, here's three storylines to watch as the Cardinals and 49ers battle:
Three Cardinals Storylines to Watch vs. 49ers
Can Colt Command Again?
There's no denying Colt McCoy brings just a different presence for Arizona's offense. He doesn't replicate the speed, rushing abilities, rocket arm and ability to make plays off schedule that Murray provides, but his veteran savvy and decision-making brought a fresh change of pace for Arizona.
McCoy did fairly well in his first start of the year, completed 26-of-37 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown in last week's victory against the Rams.
After the win, head coach Kliff Kingsbury spoke on McCoy and the different dynamic he brings to the offense.
"I think with Colt—the games that he's played for us the biggest deal is the pre-snap recognition, getting it out to those play makers on time, accurate within catch and run, and he's just had a, had a good feel for the offense since he's been here," said Kingsbury.
"A lot of the concepts that he likes, he'll communicate with us during the week, and he'll have thoughts. It's been good getting on the same page, but I think he hadn't been in many situations with this type of talented receiving core around him and I think that's really showing up. When he has weapons like we have he can be really efficient, get to those guys and play at a high level."
Now, a new task in a 49ers defense - playing perhaps some of the best football in the league - awaits.
Arizona's offense looked on time and played with purpose for a good part of their game with him under center.
Now, with fresh film on McCoy, can he do it once again?
Weapons Galore: Who to Focus on?
The San Francisco 49ers have quite the amount of weapons at their disposal.
Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel provide plenty of dynamics at receiver. George Kittle is still one of the best tight ends in the game. They also recently added Christian McCaffrey, one of the best running backs in the league.
All those weapons also play under the offensive mastermind of Kyle Shanahan. The Cardinals, who have yet to face San Francisco this season. What will be the focus of attack for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph?
"It's a tough scheme to master with the jets and the motions and the shifts. They try and ungap you before the ball's even snapped. Most of the time they do it. So the run game, it's difficult with both guys but the pass game obviously with Christian [McCaffrey] is a lot tougher," Joseph said.
The Cardinals will indeed have their hands full, but with any game plan devised by Joseph, San Francisco's rushing attack will take first priority.
However, Arizona will be kept honest in both facets defensively.
Kliff Keeping it Cool
The Cardinals were able to answer the bell last week in Los Angeles with a crucial win that effectively kept hope alive for one more week.
In that game, we saw maybe the best coached game from Kliff Kingsbury in that time. A solid offensive game plan for McCoy mixed with a dash of rightly timed shots down the field helped Arizona walk off the field with a win.
Guess what? Kingsbury gets to prove it all over again.
The Cardinals have yet to string back-to-back wins together this season, a harsh reality for a team that once had hopes of potentially winning the division.
That can still happen, but Kingsbury will need to pull his cape out and lead his group of men to victory once again.
We've heard so much about how everybody needs to be held accountable and players simply need to execute. Yet things on the field transpire from the top down, and if Kingsbury isn't able to put his team in the right positions, it could be a long night down in Mexico City.
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