The 2009 NFC Champions make the trip up to Soldier Field this year.
This will be the first meeting between the Bears and Cardinals since the infamous comeback (or meltdown depending on who your a fan of) when the Bears won in Arizona 24-23 despite a six turnover game from Bears QB Rex Grossman.
This is actually one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL. Its not as big as Bears vs Packers or Bears vs Vikings or Cowboys vs Packers but the Arizona Cardinals used to be the Chicago Cardinals created in the late 1800s and was in Chicago until the 1960s. But enough backstory...
The Cardinals brought back Kurt Warner which they had to do. You can argue about letting Matt Leinart get some quality time but the simple fact-of-the-matter is that you were maybe an extra 30 seconds away from winning the Super Bowl.
You have to make another effort.
In terms of passing, the Cardinals are one of the best. Ranked second in passing yards per game (292.1) and fourth in points per game (26.7) its hard to find a defense that can shoot it out with them and win.
Larry Fitzgerald is one of the top three receivers in the league right now, if not the best.
Anquan Boldin is also a phenomenal player too, although it will be interesting to see how he reacts to not getting a new contract.
He wants out of Arizona and has not been shy about saying so. If he were to leave, the Cardinals have Steve Breaston waiting in the wings.
Breaston was the third Cardinal receiver to have over 1000 yards receiving this year.
The run game is where questions are raised about performance. Tim Hightower received most of the carries near the goal line but still they were ranked last in rushing yards per game last year at a minuscule 73.6 ypg.
Their leading rusher was Edgerrin James who averaged 3.9 ypc. but "Edge" got the boot and they also lost reserve J.J. Arrington to the Denver Broncos but picked up Cleveland Brown castoff Jason Wright.
The major addition was Chris "Beanie" Wells who they selected out of Ohio St in the first round.
The supposed weak point to the Cardinals heading into the playoffs was their inability to keep opponents from scoring.
This changed as the Cards beat upstart Atlanta and rookie phenom Matt Ryan, then just demolished the Panthers at Carolina, forcing Jake Delhomme into five interceptions (on his birthday no less) and out lasted the Eagles in the NFC title game.
Even in the Super Bowl, while they did give up that final drive, they played pretty stout (one of the Steelers TDs came from James Harrison's 99-yard fumble return).
That said, they still ranked 16th or below in the four major defensive categories in the NFL, including giving up 26.6 points a game.
The best aspect of their defense is the defensive backfield. Led by long time Cardinal Adrian Wilson, who had 75 tackles, 2 INT, 2.5 sacks, and two fumbles, Arizona has some hope for the next few years.
Youngster Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie showed a lot of poise, and more importantly, speed during the season and then playoffs.
Leading tackler was LB Karlos Dansby who has been improving steadily over the past five seasons. The defensive line was held down by Darnell Dockett and aided in the playoffs by Bertrand Berry.
2009 NFL DRAFT
Beanie Wells has been discussed.
Free Agency: The biggest boost the Cardinals was the signing of DB Bryant McFadden from the Steelers. He adds on to an already decent backfield and he brings with him Super Bowl CHAMPION experience.
Prediction: The Cardinals did not wow anyone during the regular season last year, finishing 9-7. Look for double digit wins from the Cardinals this year, especially since they still play in a weak NFC West division.
@ Soldier Field: 0-1. Why you might ask...Because I am banking on bad weather in November. Plus I have them beating the Cards or the Eagles.
Wishful thinking I realize but the Cardinals still do not have a run game... and I am a Bears optimist... sometimes.