I guess the NFL got what it wanted. Parity is alive and well in 2009.
Not since the 1979-80 NFC title game, which pitted the 9-7 Los Angeles Rams with the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has the NFC brought together two teams that have no business being here. And for the record, the Rams took out the Bucs, 9-0, in the lowest scoring (and hardest to watch) title game in history, followed by the inevitable loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIV.
Will the Steelers be waiting there again in 2009?
I don't know what it is about the Cardinals and Kurt Warner. Perhaps it's the glove on his throwing hand, maybe it's the innumerable cutaways and split screens with his wife, displaying their matching buzz-cuts.
I just can't imagine a world where he and his Arizona teammates could be hoisting a Super Bowl trophy, or even George Halas trophy for that matter.
Yes, Kurt Warner has been here. He's won it before. He's won MVP's. But the last time he and Donovan McNabb hooked up for the NFC title was way back in 2002 and things were very different.
Warner's team then, the St. Louis Rams, were 1999 Super Bowl Champs, had just gone 14-2, and were the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. McNabb's Eagles were the new kids on the block, had just won the NFC East with an 11-5 record and were poised for their run of four consecutive title game appearances.
They gave us quite a show as the Rams notched a 29-24 win and would go on to lose a thriller to New England in Super Bowl XXXVI.
This season Warner brings his Arizona Cardinals to the dance with a 9-7 record while McNabb counters with 9-6-1 (we all remember their tie, right?). Thus, guaranteeing an NFC participant in the Super Bowl with fewer than 10 regular season wins for the first time since those 1980 Rams.
Gone are the days when you had to be a great running team to win in the playoffs. Philadelphia boasts just the 22nd-best rushing offense, and Arizona the 32nd (out of 32 teams).
Defense wins championships? Arizona sits at 28th in the league in points per game.
Sure, we'll watch. But only because it's football, and there are only three games left (and no, I'm not counting the Pro Bowl). And not for a second will I think that either of these teams has even a remote shot at their AFC counterpart.