NFC Playoff Preview: Atlanta at Arizona


Well today is the day.  History is made as the Arizona Cardinals play in their first home playoff game since moving to Arizona 20 years ago as they face the 11-5 Atlanta Falcons.  In fact it is the franchise’s first since 1946 in Chicago.

All week we heard how the Cardinals suck.  They can’t beat good teams.  They aren’t able to stop the run.  They are one dimensional and can’t possibly win in the playoffs.  Sure, the numbers and the record speak for themselves (thank you Rod Marinelli for allowing me to borrow that one), however if we were going to just go off of history and numbers, then there would be no reason to play the games.  As ESPN’s Chris Berman says, “That’s why we play the games.”  Exactly.

I could care less that the national media has made the Cardinals out to be dogs more worthy of Purina National Dog Show than dogs ready to get into the trenches to play NFL Playoff football.  I could care less the Cards are the underdogs.  It will make it that much more special because after the Cards win today at home, they can say we told you so.  Of course, a loss today would validate everything the national media has been saying for weeks.  Fine.  I know this Cards team is better than past teams.  Sure they exhibited a lot of the weaknesses and issues during the season that “dogged” this team in the less than 7 points.  That was to Carolina in October in a game they practically gave away.  They lost by 21 (twice), 28, and 41.  Not exactly playoff football there.

This team did what they had to do to get where they are today.  9-7 means nothing today.  They might as well been 7-9 or 11-5.  Let the record show even at 11-5, they would still be burdened with playing this weekend without a bye.  So, 9-7 means absolutely freaking nothing today.  Everyone is 0-0.  It’s a new season.  The Falcons come in with Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan and re born running back Michael Turner. They will be tough to stop and if Turner gets his ground game going and keeps the clock running, then the Falcons may very well find themselves in Carolina or New York next weekend.

The Cardinals as we know are all about the passing.  Edgerrin James no longer wants to be a Cardinal after the season.  As far as we know, Anquan Boldin still doesn’t either.  It truly is amazing that with Edge getting 100 yards last week and Boldin having the outstanding Pro Bowl season he had, that they can play above the turmoil and still do everything they can to give their team wins.

No matter how this turns out, remember, the Cardinals, even as the NFC West Champion, still deserve to be here.  Shut the hell up already about the 11-5 Patriots.  Yes, they are 11-5, but they didn’t do enough to get in.  That’s the way the NFL works.  Get over it people!  The San Diego Chargers aren’t apologizing about being in the playoffs at 8-8, the only non winning team in the playoffs.  The fact is, everyone in the playoffs played within what they were given and did what they needed to do to get in.  That’s all anyone wants.  It’s a second season and a chance to show everyone what you are really all about.

So, the ESPN NFL Countdown team is hardly giving the Cards a chance this morning.  Tom Jackson gives them no chance.  Mike Ditka likes “some things they do”, but doesn’t like the Cards as a playoff team.  Cris Carter says the Cardinals are playing for pride and he’s right.  It’s about taking pride in what you do and how you go about doing it.  The Cards may not win today, but I think they at least show up and make it more of a game than people want to give them credit for.  The Falcons are a damn good team at 11-5.  It will take every ounce of everything the Cards have to defeat them, even at home.  It’s no gimme, but let’s not bury the Cards yet.  At least not until let’s say around 6pm.  Let’s see where we stand then.

Go Cards!!!!

Scott Allen