A meaningful game – or not?
The Cardinals have never been in this situation before, not since coming to Arizona. There’s never been the choice to really gear it back in the regular season. Yes, they did it against Seattle in the finale last season, but the Cards at the same time needed a win to stay above .500 and that always seemed to play a role in some decisions. This year, it’s all going to be about the Vikings. The Vikings lose, and the Cards will go full bore. The Vikings win, and I’m thinking it will look more like an exhibition than the team’s third game of the preseason (because who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s … well, you know).
And here’s the thing: Whether the Cards have something to play for or not, the Packers do not. Regardless of what Packers coach Mike McCarthy says, it’s unlikely the Packers play their starters extended time. There is nothing to gain, and things to lose on many levels.
— I wouldn’t think traveling to Philadelphia in the playoffs would be enticing right now, but that has nothing to do with the Cards. The Eagles win, and eventually, the Cards may have to go through Philly. The Eagles lose to Dallas, and the Cards don’t have to worry about it – even if they lose to Green Bay.
— Talking to Ron Wolfley on the podcast this week, Wolf made a great point: When you are talking about showing the other team something, it isn’t so much particular plays as it is your thoughts. When you go after a team, you are letting them know what you think of their offense/defense and how you think you should attack it. That’s what you’d rather not reveal this weekend, as opposed to, say, Jason Wright winging a halfback option pass or some such look.
— Safety Adrian Wilson basically played defensive end the final five or six plays last week, long after the game was decided, to get his 20th career sack. That says a lot about the coaching staff, who were willing to give Wilson that opportunity. Or … did it? “I had family in the stands and they walked all the way down to the bottom row,” Wilson said with a smile. “They got a hold of Billy and told him, ‘If my son doesn’t get this sack there’s going to be some problems after the game.’ I relayed the message to Billy. And he got me that sack.”
— The Packers are the top-ranked rushing defense in the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see if the cards can dent it – assuming both sides play their “A” games.
— Each team is 10-5. But the Cards are a minus-5 this season in turnover ratio and the Packers are plus-22. You can look at that a couple of ways, but if you’re a Cards’ fan, you have to feel, all things being equal, the Cards are a better team. The problem is that, apparently it’s often not equal against the Packers – they manage to grab the advantage.
— That stat dictates things for the Cards under coach Ken Whisenhunt, though. If the Cards are even or ahead in turnovers under Whisenhunt, they have a 28-3 record. If they lose the turnover battle, they are 2-18.
— Whiz, by the way, has 30 wins as Cardinals coach – already the most fourth-most in franchise history and the top number for any coach in Arizona. Don Coryell is the leader with 42. Jim Hanifan had 39 and Charley Winner 35.
— Whenever we get to the end of the season, there are always season marks to try and hit. Punter Ben Graham needs three punts inside the 20 to tie the NFL record of 42. Larry Fitzgerald needs six catches to get to 100. Kurt Warner needs 278 yards passing to get to 4,000 this season.
And, of course, Anquan Boldin needs just 14 yards to reach 1,000 yards receiving for the fifth time in his career, which would be a franchise first. Boldin heading into the playoffs healthy and playing at a high level, to me, is the best part of the offense for the Cards, who didn’t really have that luxury late last year when Boldin was dinged up and then hurt himself again in the first playoff game.
Then again, getting all those players those statistic marks may depend on how much they play. And right now, we just don’t know how much that will be. No one does.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Ben Graham, Eagles, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Packers, playoffs, Ron Wolfley, Vikings
Posted in Blog | 7 Comments »