1. Larry Fitzgerald has become the best receiver in the game. No one can cover him and even if they come close, Fitz uses his superior balling skills to position himself perfectly for the ‘rebound’ , then he out leaps the opponent, and tops it off with perhaps the best hands in the game.
In July I recounted the influence former Arizona Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley had on his professional and competitive game:
Fitzgerald went from a quiet player that made it to the Pro Bowl relying on his natural athleticism, to becoming a vocal leader and now an ordained Captain that pairs his God-given abilities with an intense work ethic. How do the 49ers stop that in their Week 1 matchup?
2. Home field advantage. The Cardinals lost only twice last season at home, and Ken Whisenhunt’s Cardinal teams are a combined 14-4 in his tenure, as I noted in an earlier NFLT post. The Cardinals’ well chronicled 2008 NFL season was like nothing the franchise had ever witnessed, and Week 1 will be a celebration of that. The crowd will surely be pumped and primed to relive the last game held here-the NFC Championship Game in which they conquered the Eagles. That is the elephant in the room facing the 49ers.
3. The team will have added intensity after “stinking it up” in the preseason. I know coach Whiz is denying it a best he can, but the team was not playing focused ball even if they were playing their cards close to the vest, vanilla all the way. This could be a rallying point, and if it is, when they add their own kindling to the crowd’s fire, it could be raging.
Why The Cardinals Will Lose to the 49ers:
1. Kurt Warner is identifiably out of sync. His off season hip surgery is causing him to start slow and stiff. He claims it loosens up slowly, but the way he was throwing the ball in preseason gives me the indication that it is effecting his throwing motion and timing. He looks out of sync and rusty, and lets face it, without the Kurt Warner that we all know and love Arizona’s Offense is not a juggernaut.
2. Super Bowl hangover. You know how it goes. Success breeds complacency. Players forget or get comfortable in the level they attained and they take a break from fighting for more. It is clear Darnell Dockett is the same player, Adrian Wilson is the same player, Karlos Dansby is the same player, and others. What is frightening is how DRC has played thus far. He looks almost disinterested the way he is getting fried so badly out there. Make no mistake, he has the athletic skill to be one of the game’s best CBs, but without focus it means nothing.
3. San Francisco gives them fits and will be better this year. I am a believer in new head coach Mike Singletary. I think he will get the most out of his players and will hold them accountable. I like that he is focusing on the run game, wouldn’t you if you had Frank Gore and Glen Coffee to tote the rock? Not to mention Shaun Hill as your QB…I mean c’mon, the guy isn’t going to light it up zipping it to receivers, but he has moxy, something you can’t teach. He is a throwback kind of tough guy, with an attitude reminiscent of Joe Kapp. I have to believe that under a Hall of Fame Linebacker’s tutelage their Defense will be improved. As a fan I am scared of the 49ers because they may have the ability to win based on Singletary’s immense will alone, and could be one of the surprise teams of the NFL this season.
Stay tuned for the results, and Happy Week One everyone.
For more from Chris Farmer, check out his blog Undrafteds.com
His Fantasy Football analysis can be read on FantasyFootball.com
This article also appears on NFLTouchdown.com