The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

Cards Can't Deal


Why is it that when I hear the words Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl, I think of John McEnroe's famous challenge to line calls that didn't go his way, "You cannot be serious!" It's not that the Cards have only three playoff wins since 1947 or that until this year they had won just one. And it's not that they had a lackluster season culminating in a late season thrashing at the hands of New England. It's that of the four playoff teams left, the Cardinals are the only one without an adequate defense or a competent running game.

True, their passing offense is sick. Kurt Warner's arm has been reborn yet again. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are the most frightening WR combo since The Greatest Show on Turf's Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce. Unfortunately the Cardinals play on grass and, more to the point, they don't have Marshall Faulk, Todd Lyght or Kevin Carter.

Now, people are going to point to last week's mauling of the Panthers and say the Cards defense stepped up and their running game came out. Those people are wrong. It's easy for a defense to look great when the opposing quarterback has the worst game of his career. If anything, the Cardinals should have given Jake Delhomme their game ball, but he'd probably have just just coughed it back up.

Arizona's "reborn" running game was merely a product of the blowout. When you're up big, you run more -- and, besides, the team only managed 145 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Eagles defense torched Earth, stopped Wind and doused Fire last Sunday in New York. Do you really think they're going to have problems against an over the hill Edgerrin James and an over-hyped Tim Hightower? Neither do I.

What's more, McNabb and Westbrook, the Eagles so-called cornerstones played at best average against the Giants. It mattered not. Why? Because defense wins playoff games, and the Birds defense hung Rocky tough. They bent but didn't break on key 3rd and 4th down shorts stuffing Brandon Jacobs, while the secondary snagged Eli's hurried passes. And guess what? Of the four defenses left in the playoffs the Eagles are third, behind both Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Last place, though, by a good 20 laps, belongs to the Cardinals, and come Sunday they will get plucked because of it.

By Emil Steiner  |  January 13, 2009; 9:16 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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