Here it is. First game for the Cardinals as NFC West Champions. So much more to play for though on Sunday. Like playoff seeding. Some might not care too much about it, but I guarantee you there are two teams playing here at University of Phoenix Stadium today that most certainly care about today’s game.
The Arizona Cardinals welcome the Minnesota Vikings, both 8-5, on Sunday. Minnesota is still fighting for a playoff spot in addition to seeding. The winner of this game most likely lands the coveted third seed in the NFC playoffs. The difference between third and fourth seed is a trip to either New York or Charlotte in the second weekend of playoff action. Personally, Charlotte sounds much better to me, AND the Cardinals can play there. If not for a couple of blunders and giving up a 14 point third quarter lead, the Cardinals would have come away with a victory back in October against the Panthers. Having a third seed also provides that team a chance to host the NFC Championship game should they make it that far and the top two teams are upset along the way.
Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said he will play his starters as long as there is something to play for. Bravo! Good move. I realize with the playoffs clinched it would be easy to send in Matt Leinart to take snaps, however until that third seed is in place, that shouldn’t and won’t happen.
As for the Vikings, they are without starting quarterback Gus Frerotte, who injured his back last week. So, backup Tavaris Jackson takes the reins today. I expect a good dose of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The Cards are going to have their hands full with him. If they really want that third seed though, they will play hard and do everything they can to avoid being run over like Eagles back Brian Westbrook did a couple of weeks ago.
It will all come down to who wants it more. The Vikings will have more to play for as they still have yet to get into the dance, but the Cardinals are tough at home. Avoid the mental mistakes and the Cardinals should come away with a win. Cardinals 28-18.