Posts tagged ‘Arizona Cardinals’
After four quarters of extremely intense football, the season ended the way most expected. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in a game that, in my opinion, was the most entertaining Super Bowl in years.
Although my predicted winner didn’t prevail, other highlights took over the evening. Larry Fitzgerald capped a postseason that will go down as one of the best ever by an NFL receiver. Kurt Warner may not have come out on top but he did throw for three touchdowns and almost 400 yards against the league’s top defense…in a Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger has won his second ring by the age of 27. Mike Tomlin becomes the youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl. And Santonio Holmes made a name for himself – a name that will make its way out of the Steel City.
Throughout the playoffs, the Cardinals have surprised all opposition and all of the critics. And for a defense that has held up so well against so many strong offenses, for a defense that has been the backbone to a true Cinderella story, it is hard to watch them crumble in the last two minutes.
As nice as it would have been to see the underdog pull out the big win, the Steelers had the heart and experience to bring a 6th Lombardi trophy to Pittsburgh.
I’m officially on the Mike Tomlin bandwagon and I’m happy to see him earn this ring. He has the style and intensity to be extremely successful in this league. Every team should be looking for the next Mike Tomlin.
Get ready for the Redskins next season (poor attempt at comedy).
Now that it’s the day of the event, I guess there’s no better time to make my stone-cold Super Bowl pick. I waited and waited and waited to pick my winner for the most popular game of the year. I thought about stats, streaks, and players. I took into account which team plays better on grass, in domes, or on turf. I even listened to interviews of players and tried to uncover their true confidence from within the tones of their voice.
Actually, I did none of that. All of that handicapping and stat crunching still leave you with one big guessing game. So why cram your brain with stats and bet the house when you can just make an educated guess and bet the car?
Arizona has had the best offense and is on the perfect streak entering today’s game. Pittsburgh has had the best defense and the toughest schedule throughout the whole year. What gives?
There’s no doubt that the game should be entertaining, but the key point will be whether or not Arizona can stop the Steelers’ pass-rush. I said that the Cardinals would beat the Eagles if they controlled the Eagels pass-rush. They did, they won. Comparing the Eagles’ pass-rush and the Steelers’ pass-rush is pretty much apples to apples. The only difference is the time that Pittsburgh has had to prepare. Pittsburgh is dirty, raw, and ready to rip off a quarterback’s head at all times, the Cards should be very afraid.
Kurt Warner did a great job of calling out of plays against the Eagles (i.e. calling quick slants with man-to-man coverage on an all-out blitz) and I think he will be able to do the same against the Steelers. The Steelers will most likely play lockdown defense on the receivers with Polamalu over the top on Fitzgerald’s side. But what about Boldin and Breaston? Just when you think you have Fitzgerald covered, Boldin and Breaston are right there to make huge contributions. If Kurt has the time, the Steelers are going to get beat up in pass-coverage. Arizona wins in the pass-attack category.
The running game will also be a factor. Throughout the season, the Steelers could run and the Cardinals couldn’t. But come playoff time, it’s a totally diffrerent season. Arizona has done a superb job at stopping the run in the playoffs and the Steelers have only performed mediocre on the ground since hitting the playoffs. The Steelers’ ability to stop the run is what may give the Cardinals their most trouble. Edgerrin James and Rookie Hightower are capable of handling the load but the Cards’ offensive line MUST push through the trenches. And it’s likewise for the Steelers, Willie Parker has to find the holes against an underrated Cardinals defense. I think the Steelers prevail on the ground and Arizona is limited.
At the end of the day, the Steelers should come out the clear-cut winners. They have proven themselves all year whereas the Cardinals have only showed up for the playoffs. It’s Big Ben’s time to drop serious numbers in a Super Bowl, not like he did a few years ago. But then again, it’s Kurt Warner’s time to earn himself a spot in Canton. The Steelers have the experience and the Cardinals have Kurt Warner. Is that an even trade-off?
I believe in the “hot streak”. I believe that teams get hot at the right times and that’s what could either make or break a season. As much as I hate Kurt Warner, he deserves to be here and he deserves to win. The Steelers are the favorite and they should be, but I will take the underdog in this one.
Arizona defeats Pittsburgh, 24-20
The Arizona Cardinals will represent the NFC in the 2009 Super Bowl. Did you hear that? The ARIZONA CARDINALS are going to the frickin’ Super Bowl! Who picked that at the beginning of the season? I would guess that it wasn’t too many people.
I am always harsh on the aging Kurt Warner. I was critical of the Arizona defense and their ability to stop the run, or lack there of. But the underdog of the 2009 playoffs truly accomplished, and earned, the unbelievable.
For guys like Edgerrin James, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Adrian Wilson – I want them to get this Super Bowl ring. But I must admit, I still hate Kurt Warner. I will make it clear right now that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be favored in the Super Bowl and they will probably prevail. However, I am all about the underdogs and the Arizona Cardinals are playing like the favorites. Not to mention that if the Cardinals win the Super Bowl, I can say that my team (the Washington Redskins) defeated the Super Bowl champs.
This is an extremely exciting time for football fans everywhere, especially if your team happened to post a pretty good record. It’s the start of the NFL playoffs. Time to order the wings, grab the beers, call the buddies, and retire to the mancave for the next 8-12 hours. I have my playoff picture sprawled out in my mind, who I think will go where and who will ultimately win it all and you should too. To start, here’s what I like for Saturday’s games…
Atlanta @ Arizona (4:30pm) – Arizona got to the playoffs because of an atrocious division and they really embarassed themselves in games latter in the season. They have had trouble selling tickets to a playoff game, which doesn’t happen often in Arizona, and that is a sign that the fan support isn’t what it could be. With the college-like offense, there’s no doubt that the Cards are entertaining to watch – but they don’t have the defense to do any damage in the playoffs. Atlanta, on the otherhand, is the perfect cinderella story this season. Worst team a year ago, Mike Vick is an idiot, fans in Atlanta are hating every minute of it, etc. Then they draft Matt Ryan (NFC ROY), sign a guy named Michael Turner, and get a new coach who really knows what he’s doing. For my pick I look at one match-up, Michael Turner vs. Cardinals’ defense. I like Atlanta. Matt Ryan will not be perfect but Michael Turner will do his work. Arizona’s offense won’t dominate like it usually does and the homefield advantage will have no effect on either ball club. Atlanta comes out on top.
Indianapolis @ San Diego (8:00pm) – This game is a lot harder to predict than most. San Diego makes me scratch my head and Indy has been a quiet surprise after their slow start. I would like to think that Peyton Manning is on a mission and he won’t lose his first playoff game, but the Chargers are still my early Super Bowl pick (you can laugh at that one, I do). With new reports that LT has a tear in his groin, and those normally don’t feel too good, I’ll have to go with the Wonders – a.k.a. Colts. The Colts have the opportunity to pull what the Steelers did a couple years ago. It’s not likely and I don’t think they’ll win the Super Bowl, but I think the Colts prevail in this game today.
Good luck, get ready for Sunday
All of the teams I put in my Lucky Seven last week won except for the DeadSkins. Here’s how I see it going into week 12, hard to believe we’ve come this far:
1.) Tennessee Titans (1) – They are still without a loss and Kerry Collins is doing it without alcohol, I like it. It may not be attractive, it may not get any style points, but the Titans are the real deal. No explanation necessary.
2.) New York Giants (2) – They are so close to moving up to number one on the chart after crushing such a good Baltimore defense. However, they lost to the Browns and the Titans have beaten everyone they’re suppose to. We’ll see when the head-to-head match-up arrives.
3.) Pittsburgh (3) – They won an ugly one in some really tough weather. They were also apart of a game that cost bettors an estimated $66 million, which is why I stopped betting on the NFL. I still don’t think they lost their intensity but Big Ben scares me at times (along with his $27M this year).
4.) Arizona Cardinals (6) – They may not have beaten a great opponent, but they beat the Seahawks that was reasonably staffed. And their offense is just so dominant. The other teams that may have been in this spot had dismal games or just are not yet deserving. Warner is still up for the Heisman and Boldin is the best receiver in the league.
5.) Carolina Panthers (5) – They won a ugly game against Detroit. They did have an absolutely unbeleivable game on the ground, racking up over 200 yards. However, my not-so-favorite Delhomme cannot pass right now to save his life. He had just 98 yards passing and it makes the overall outlook of the Panthers’ offense unknown. I still like the Cards’ over this Panthers team right now.
6.) Washington Redskins (4) – Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just a few weeks ago this team looked like it could really make some noise. Then people realized that their offense is the most hilarious thing to watch in all of football besides Al Davis’ reactions to reporters. If defenses lock down Santana Moss (which isn’t all that tough) then this offense is completely flat. Campbell has no protection and the 5-yard passes on 3rd and 12 isn’t going to get it done. The defense is getting turnovers but they have no pressure from their line. Serious issues need to be addressed on both the lines if this team has any hopes of doing anything.
7.) Tampa Bay Bucs (7) – They sit here behind the Skins’ because the Skins’ should still be able to beat these guys. Tampa Bay has been on a pretty solid roll and Jeff Garcia continues to impress the people that thought AARP couldn’t play football. Their receiver situation is a little shakey but I really like their defense and it could take them to the playoffs as a division-winner.
Atlanta may have dropped their game last week but they are destined to win the division, according to the crazy NFC South stat that says the team that finishes last in the division one year is the division winner the next. Ravens are still kind of on my radar but I am looking more at the other purple team, the Vikings. They dropped one but the NFC North is wide open.
I take a little time away from the NFL weekly Power Rankings and some things have certainly changed. Here’s my opinion of the top seven teams in the NFL going into week 11:
1.) Tennessee Titans – They’re on the road to the Super Bowl; who could argue otherwise? Defense is dominant, running attack is balanced, and Kerry Collins controls the football games. My only concern is lack of wide receiver production, a problem that has plagued the organization for the past couple years. However, big-time play from the Titans’ tight ends have made up for the slack.
2.) New York Giants – They’re in the toughest (no arguments allowed) division in football. Their running game is the most balanced in the NFL, even more than the Titans. I don’t like Eli but he finds ways to get the ball to the unexpected. No-name guys are producing for this team and that’s why the Giants will go far. The whole team plays as one unit…minus Plexiglass of course.
3.) Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are a beat up ball club right now and it still doesn’t stop them from being the most physical team in the NFL. Two of Pittsburgh’s key players (Roethlisberger and Parker) are out and they continue to find ways to win. I won’t count out Pittsburgh until they miss the playoffs.
4.) Washington Redskins – They dropped a tough one to Pittsburgh on national television and took it into the bye with them, hopefully they come out with a little more fire. The Skins’ problem is not scoring touchdowns and thinking it’s okay to score field goals. They have a chance to sweep the Cowboys on Sunday night and they need to take advantage of the opportunity. Portis is 50-50 on whether he’ll play Sunday night, and his health could possibly determine the Skins’ future.
5.) Carolina Panthers – Self-explanatory. I may not be a huge supporter of Jake Delhomme but he can definitely sling the football and that’s what seems to work in Carolina. Steve Smith is one of the top receivers in the league and DeAngelo Williams is having a good year on the ground thus far. But what is really winning ball games for the Panthers is their defense. The Carolina defense has given up only 133 points on the year, which is the lowest given up in the NFC. Carolina’s 7-2 record puts them in a prime spot to carve their own path to the playoffs.
6.) Arizona Cardinals – It seems like the Cards’ should be playing in the Big XII rather than the dismal NFC West. Kurt Warner has Heisman-like numbers (Fanzak article) and it looks like their running the spread offense with big receivers on each side. I like the Cardinals to win the division and do some damage in the playoffs using their high-powered offense.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa is similar to the Carolina Panthers, and never did I think two teams from the NFC South would make the top seven teams in the league. In fact, the NFC South has proven to be quite a force in the NFL this season. Jeff Garcia is showing that he really isn’t that old and the defense continues to be their strong point. Tampa is a good ball club but they need to keep an eye out for Atlanta who is hot on their tail.
Watch out for teams like the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens. Both have rookie quarterbacks but have found ways to prove the early critics wrong. Atlanta’s offense is on fire right now while the Ravens’ defense continues to be the best in football. The scary part is that Flacco is turning the corner, or so it seems, and the team could possibly be just as good on offense as they are on defense. I also wouldn’t say anything about the Patriots. They have the best coach in the league and they have 98% of the undefeated team from last year.
Kurt Warner? Okay, so maybe Kurt Warner’s numbers can’t be as dominant as Harrell’s 4,077 yards, McCoy’s 180 passer rating, or Bradford’s 38 touchdowns, but take a look at the difference in the opponents they face. Harrell’s Red Raiders play a team from Southern Methodist University. Doesn’t ring any bells, right? How about when Colt McCoy drops three touchdowns on Florida Atlantic? No? How do you like Sam Bradford juicing up against Chattanooga? Now take Kurt Warner playing in the National Football League against professional athletes week in and week out. He’s up there in Heisman-like statistics.
Just to get it out of the way, I hate Kurt Warner. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t like the guy but there is certainly an underlying and mysterious disgust that just makes me want to punch him the ear when he isn’t looking. It’s kind of like Jeff Burton in NASCAR, his face just annoys me. Anyway, it’s important to know that I do not like Kurt Warner and I thought his stint in St. Louis was a perfect case of being thrown into a great system that could be overly productive with Heath Shuler at quarterback. And through ten games of the 2008 NFL season, man do I feel stupid.
This season Kurt Warner has thrown for 2,760 yards. He has 19 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. He has completed an astounding 70% of his passes and he has a 106 passer rating to prove it. And by the way, he has seven games left to play. Now to me, love him or hate him, those are incredible numbers for a 37-year-old former grocery bagger from Northern Iowa. The Arizona Cardinals are 6-3 on the year and have the clear path to winning the NFC West division. They have an even better chance of getting a cake-walk game in the second round of the playoffs. These are not the Cardinals of old, at all. Their offense looks like the spread that McCoy runs at Texas and Kurt Warner is passing as often as Graham Herrell at Texas Tech, all of which is unheard of in the professional game. Cardinal’s head coach Ken Whisenhunt has taken this team and turned them into a legit force on offense. Their defense is a little scary at times and they commit some penalties forced merely by lack of focus, but they can also look very dominant at times. Normally I would say that the team is on a hot streak (see: Cleveland Browns 2007) and that Warner is kicking tail and taking names because he has Fitzgerald and Boldin on each side of him. However, I honestly believe that this team is for real.
I know Kurt Warner can’t play forever and the Cardinal’s next-in-line, Matt Leinart, is stuck in his frat from USC, but this team cannot go unnoticed. Leinart will hopefully realize the awesome potential that this club has and he will take it upon himself to inherit the starting job from the Ol’ Kickin’ Kurt. Boldin is young, Fitz is young, Breaston is young, Hightower is young, the defense has some young and talented potential, all leading to a serous future for the Cardinals in a dismal NFC West division.
Sorry if you think I have completely over-hyped Kurt Warner, but I somewhat have. Whether he only succeeds with good receivers or not, he has what it takes to get it done. Kurt Warner has literally risen from the dead to take the Cardinals and turn them into a threat come playoff time. And due to his performance, I can honestly say that he may have deserved those MVP awards and Super Bowl rings from a few years back. In this rant I am officially admitting my ignorance and saying that Kurt Warner is a clear-cut choice for the 2008 NFL MVP Award, a step up from the Heisman.