In a league in which the outcome of games so often depends on momentum, the Cards have got it rolling at a time when the Saints are badly dragging their feet.
The hottest team in the NFL for 13 weeks, the New Orleans Saints are struggling at the worst time. The Arizona Cardinals, however, are coming off of one of the most prolific scoring performances in post season history.
The Cardinals racked up 51 points against a Green Bay Packers’ team that came in with the second ranked overall defense in the NFL. Offensively, quarterback Kurt Warner had a perfect passer rating, throwing for 379 yards and completing 88 percent of his passes. He had more touchdown throws (five) than incompletions (four).
The Saints on the other hand, who have had their division title wrapped up since their 26-23 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons on December 13th, have basically been off for a month.
In Drew Brees’ final two outings (he didn’t play in the season finale), the MVP runner up has been just a shell of his former self, throwing just two touchdowns and one interception in back to back home losses to Dallas and Tampa Bay.
On the defensive side, the momentum, unfortunately, seems to be headed in the same direction for both teams.
The Cardinals have given up 33 and 45 points, respectively, in back to back performances against the Packers, and it’s been the team’s secondary that has been the primary problem.
Against a group that has looked more like a practice squad than actual NFL starters, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 49-68 passes for 657 yards and five touchdowns in his last two games against them.
Similarly, the Saints, a group that is still fourth in the league in takeaways (38), have slowly devolved into one of the worst defenses in the NFL (25th overall). Their problems can be primarily attributed to the big play, as they lead the NFL in plays given up over 30 yards.
This is great news for an Arizona receiving corps that includes, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet, who have all shown an ability to go the distance on any play; Fitzgerald is tied for the league in touchdown receptions, with 13.
With both defenses, in effect, canceling each other out, the question becomes…will the Cardinals’ offensive momentum be enough, or are the Saints and Drew Brees capable of turning the tide?
The answer is…Cardinals will keep it going; 38-31. Maybe Cinderella can go to the ball again after all.