The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Cards of Chance

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Do the Arizona Cardinals stand a chance? Can they really beat the streaking Philadelphia Eagles, the ousters of the defending Super Bowl champions?
How about yes and yes. Let me get this out of the way -- I believe the Eagles will advance to Super Bowl XLIII. That being said, questioning Arizona's ability to win the NFC Championship and considering them to be frauds is irresponsible if you follow football. I'll give you that the 9-7 Cardinals won six of their games against weaker division opponents. I'll also give you their inability to compete in the frosty confines of Philly or New England - they've proven that over the course of the regular season.

Except, Arizona survived its cold weather games and thanks to Philly, won't have to play in another frigid condition this Sunday. The Cardinals stuck it to a solid Atlanta squad and pummeled a top Super Bowl contender in Carolina. So suddenly, Arizona can beat other divisions, namely the NFC South. Doesn't that earn them some respect?

The notion that Arizona is a fraud will come back to bite the Eagles and those who pick against them if they're not careful. The Cardinals are being written off - at home - because they are in fact the Cardinals. They are being dismissed because their franchise as a whole has been a failure over time. But that doesn't mean that this team, in this NFC Title game, in this positive season will falter. Their QB has one more Super Bowl ring than the Eagles QB. He also has two more NFL MVP awards. Does that count for nothing in this one, three-hour contest?

Let's go back to 2002 when the Tampa Bay Bucs, the mocked, ridiculed franchise known for wearing light orange pants, came to Philly for the NFC Title game. They were written off that day. They hadn't won in freezing conditions in forever it seemed and they were facing the same Eagles team that crushed them out of the playoffs the prior two seasons. The game was Philly's final ever at their beloved Veteran's Stadium. Surely, destiny and reality were not on Tampa's side, especially after Eagles RB Duce Staley made it 7-0 in the opening minutes. And then the remaining three hours came and went and next thing you know, the Bucs were in the Super Bowl. And a week later, the Bucs won the Super Bowl. So much for being considered a fraud.

So, that's the sort of danger you're messing with if you write off Arizona. Sure, the Eagles beat up the Cardinals in Philly on Thanksgiving night, so we know they can beat Arizona. But that seems like eight seasons ago under completely different circumstances. Suddenly, the survive and advance Eagles of 2008 are the road favorites to advance to the Super Bowl. So you're betting against a pass-happy Kurt Warner in warm conditions? Couldn't the pressure or the potential over-confidence backfire on Donovan McNabb if he isn't careful? For all this chatter about the incredible Eagles defense --what if they don't have an answer for Larry Fitzgerald?

So do the Arizona Cardinals stand a chance? Yes.

And that's really all they could ask for.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  January 13, 2009; 6:27 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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