Cards QB Kurt Warner will meet his old team in Glendale.
You can't win in the NFC West. Even if you win. That's the moral of the story for the Arizona Cardinals, who've been crucified for years as the doormat of the weak-sister NFC Worst. Now that they're on the verge of winning their first division title since 1975 -- a victory against the lowly St. Louis Rams on Sunday will clinch it -- they're sure to be pilloried for winning the title against, yes, an NFC West opponent.
There's this newish term among sports wags called the "quality win." Last time we checked, any win counted as a win, especially in the NFL, but let's put it in perspective. Thus far, the Cards have beaten everyone they were supposed to (NFC West opponents St. Louis, Seattle, and San Francisco - twice), adding solid wins over some fairly respectable out-of-division teams (Miami, Buffalo, Dallas). We'd give 'em moral victories for the close road losses against the Redskins and Panthers. The Cards have only been seriously embarrassed three times (by the Eagles in Philly and the Super Bowl-caliber Giants and Jets).
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In other words, while they obviously have some issues to address, the Cards aren't the trainwreck they're made out to be. Quarterback Kurt Warner, save for last week's three-interception debacle against the Eagles, is having an MVP season. And, as noted, a win against St. Louis -- with which Warner won a Super Bowl championship back in the day -- clinches the division.
This combined with one more win out of their final three games (at home against the Vikings on December 14, in -- ack! -- Foxboro against the Patriots on December 21, at home against the Seahawks on December 28) will give the Cards their first winning season since the Year of the Snake in '98. And we feel in our bones that they'll win a playoff game, especially if it's in Glendale.
So chill. It's all good (or at least not all bad). A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single cleat on the neck of the St. Louis Lambs, the new doormat of the NFC Worst.
Kickoff's at 2:15 at University of Phoenix Stadium. See www.azcardinals.com. TV: FOX 10. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. -- Clay McNear