The last time the Cardinals were on pace to win 10 games, they went to Tennessee. You remember that one don’t you? Kurt Warner was coming off a concussion and the Cards shut him down that day, putting Matt Leinart under center for what turned out to be his final time as a starter in Arizona.
(It was in Tennessee the following year in the preseason, with a game, joint practice and then benching for Derek Anderson, that essentially ended Leinart’s tenure with the Cards, but that’s a rehash for another day.)
Leinart played well enough to win, but the defense allowed Vince Young and the Titans a 99-yard touchdown drive culminating in a Kenny Britt touchdown catch on the final play of the game. It was a heartbreaker, and stopped the Cards from being 7-0 on the road at that point. They did, however, still win 10 games.
The Cardinals have to win in Tennessee this weekend to reach 10 games, you’d think. Mathematically that isn’t true, but with a road trip to Seattle and a home game against San Francisco left, this is one the Cards should get. Beyond that, they have to get it. We’ve covered the playoff situation, and while it tends to look bleak even if the Cards win all three of their remaining games, they can’t be eliminated this weekend if they win.
— Carson Palmer should play Sunday. If he did last week without throwing a pass in practice, he will this week barring something unforeseen. He was limited again this week – no one is saying if he threw some in practice or just took another week of rest – but Palmer said he didn’t like doing it last week at all.
“Completely different, kind of eerie,” Palmer said. “I didn’t enjoy it. It’s not enjoyable. When you are practicing you are always looking at the guys that aren’t practicing, and you are jealous. But, then when you are that guy standing on the sidelines, you want to actually be out there. You kind of get stuck in that, ‘Well, I wish I wasn’t, but I wish I was.’”
— Here’s where we find out defensive life without Tyrann Mathieu. I actually think it will be a little less important against the Titans than against the final two NFC West opponents, but don’t forget that Mathieu was arguably the Cardinals’ best tackler. Now that’s gone.
— I know veteran cornerback Antoine Cason has been itching to play more defense. He’s going to get a chance now.
— If the Cards keep getting the same kind of play out of Karlos Dansby and John Abraham, the Mathieu loss can be mitigated.
— Darnell Dockett was fined $7,875 for intentionally stepping on the hand of Rams offensive lineman Chris Williams last week. Defensive end Eugene Sims (who was called for a personal foul for hitting Palmer during the Jim Dray fumble-runback-that-wasn’t), Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (who was flagged for spiking his helmet at the feet of an official) and Dansby (who was called for a personal foul) were not fined.
— With the end of the regular season in sight, it will be interesting to see if a few offensive players can reach yardage milestones. Palmer needs 542 yards passing to throw for 4,000 yards with his third different franchise. That seems doable, even with games coming against Seattle and San Francisco. Michael Floyd, gimpy ankle and all, needs 114 yards receiving to reach 1,000. That too seems reasonable.
More interesting is the case of Larry Fitzgerald, who needs 226 yards to reach 1,000, a not easy number given the Niners and Seahawks. You know Fitz wants to get there.
— Pro Bowl voting ends Dec. 26. Click here if you’d like to have your voice heard.
— The Cardinals have benefited big-time by the return of cornerback Bryan McCann, who was cut at the end of training camp. His special teams work replacing the injured Teddy Williams, especially at gunner opposite Justin Bethel has been impressive.
“You kind of got to,” McCann said. “It’s part of the business. The whole point is that you don’t have a drop off in production when the next man steps in.”
McCann said he wasn’t frustrated with getting cut when he had had a pretty good camp. “It’s the way the business goes. Can’t complain. I’m back here, I’m back working and I’m happy for it.”
— The weather is supposed to be 36 degrees and clear Sunday for the late afternoon start. We’ll see if the Cards can make sure it ends a little differently than last time.
Tags: Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Carson Palmer, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Michael Floyd, Titans, Tyrann Mathieu
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