Cards Still In Hunt

By Zack Cimini

Who would have thought that the Arizona Cardinals would still be alive for the playoffs with a 6-9 record? Well, no one but the minimal chance of it happening is a likelihood with the way the Seahawks and Rams are playing. If the Cardinals defeat the Seahawks on Sunday, they would have the tiebreaker over the Seahawks and Rams by virtue of their head to head matchups. The bottom line is that this division is appalling and degrading to the NFL. Every team has been inconsistent, and will likely get blown out in the wild card round. On the reverse side each team has scary talent that could overwhelm an opposing NFC team that comes in unprepared. Another unbelievable outlook is that this division could get the wild card sixth seed as well.

The Cardinals had the best opportunity but dwindled it with poor decisions by Dennis Green. Add to that two losses to the 49ers that could have easily been two Cardinals wins, and you have a team that should?ve finished with nine to ten wins. When you?re struggling, poor decisions are all a part of the transformation when you are trying to assess your teams talents. The media wants to put the blame on Dennis Green, but earlier in the year the Cardinals were winning ugly because of McCown?s ineffectiveness. In fact if it weren?t for their defense, they would have lost many games early on in the year. It just so happens that McCown has had a two fold season, and is finishing out the year well.

Dennis Green hasn?t spoken about his miscue, but in his demeanor you can tell that he learned a lesson. Risk taking is all a part of being a leader and that?s the responsibility of a coach. If Shaun King or John Navarre would have revitalized the Cardinals, Green would?ve been praised nationally. Quietly though it gave more hunger for McCown who has put up two solid performances, and is starting to develop a nice chemistry with rookie receiver Larry Fitzgerald. McCown had a total of four touchdowns (two rushing) on Sunday in a dominant performance over the Rams. Even if the Cardinals don?t make the playoffs, they should have tremendous confidence heading into next season.

St. Louis finishes up at the Eagles and then the following week against the Jets. These two games will test the Rams heart, because one win and they?re almost a lock for a wild card spot if not the division. Seattle has squandered too many chances this year, and the fumble has been picked up by St. Louis. The Eagles have come away with two ugly wins, and if the Rams play anywhere near their capability they should be able to win against the Eagles. The problem is the Rams haven?t been playing well offensively, and just are making inexcusable mistakes. With Terrell Owens more than likely out next week, it all plays in the favor of the Rams. So how bad do they want it?

Seattle?s play is a little reminiscent of the New Orleans Saints. One week they look like a team that could be one of the NFL?s best, and the next they look like duds. All in all the high expectations of the Seahawks coming into this season, could still be a possibility. A successful season means nothing, it is all about the playoffs. It doesn?t matter if you have a 14-2 season, opposed to a 9-7 season if you can get to the Super Bowl. The talent level of this team is right up their with the Eagles, but they just don?t want it as bad as other teams do. That type of play is what drives coaches like Bill Parcells nuts, and leads to ugly disputes amongst the team.

All three of these franchises are headed in different directions. The Rams appear to be in the worst situation, with decisions to make on Mike Martz and the future of Marshall Faulk. Seattle just needs to improve their defense in the off season, and keep their mold together offensively. Arizona obviously needs to decide what they are going to do at quarterback, and let Emmitt Smith return to Dallas. In two seasons this division will be a definite strong hold in the NFC, and this year will be an after thought.


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