Arizona Cardinals: Will a Losing Record Win the NFC West?
Please, Arizona, take the NFC West.
It's yours. Nobody wants it.
Can you give us 6-10?
That may be enough to carry this division.
How about 7-9?
That will probably do the trick.
And if not, 8-8 will shoo you in for this Worst Division Ever.
How did this happen?
You entered your matchup with the mighty Detroit Lions sitting well under the .500 mark. Sunday's game was supposed to be a nail in your coffin. Now you're a very reasonable pick to go to the playoffs, and enjoy home field advantage in your first game.
Maybe a quick look a the "competition" will explain it...
The San Francisco 49ers clearly don't want this division. Sure, they beat you guys in the first game of the season, following some Alex Smith heroics that reminded everyone of Joe Montana.
But you see Cardinals—that was actually just a demonstration of what the Niners planned NOT to do for the rest of the year. In all likelihood, Smith returned to the locker room and Jim Hostler told him, "Great work, Alex—now go take the rest of the season off. You've earned it!"
The Nines are poised for a shellacking the next time they face you—expect Kurt Warner to find new and creative ways to make Nate Clements wonder what happened to the rest of the secondary.
This offense will pat itself on the back if they score a single touchdown during the course of the afternoon. Larry and Anquan will each have to catch at least one pass if the rest of the Cardinals want to take the day off—which they probably should.
After all, who wouldn't want two bye weeks?
It may go without saying, but the St. Louis Rams surely don't want to take this division either. We all knew that they weren't a good team, but few of us realized that Torry Holt and Co. were godawful.
Not only did they lose to the aforementioned 49ers (the second-worst team in the NFC), but their victory over red-hot New Orleans just demonstrated to the world that they were actually capable of winning games against good teams the whole time.
Turns out that the only thing capable of motivating this squad was the admittedly unpleasant thought of going zero for sixteen.
But now that they have accomplished this heroic feat, expect them to drop seven more.
And that brings us to the mighty Seattle Seahawks. These guys are all that stand in the way of your playoff gimme.
So you probably didn't shed any tears this morning when reading that Shaun Alexander and Deion Branch are both out for the game tonight.
It's very possible that they're just nursing a few bruises while letting the practice squad get some game time experience against San Fran. More likely, though, is the sad reality that Seattle redefines the notion of an injury-plagued team.
Shaun Alexander will join Terrell Davis in Coulda-Been Heaven, and we can assume that he won't build upon his already dismal rushing numbers (492 yards in eight games).
Deion Branch's foot injury, which Seattle's management has assured everyone is no big deal, is starting to raise eyebrows. But even if Branch loses a step, it shouldn't undermine his ability to catch passes from a man who missed half of last season...oh wait.
The Seahawks have talent, there's no doubt about that. Too bad they're a bunch of grandpas.
So what does this all mean?
You, Arizona, are poised to win this division by default. You enjoy the distinct possibility of being the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record.
But you can't take all the credit yourself.
No, you must remember to thank God for breaking Matt Leinart's collarbone, thus squelching any lingering debate over who should start the season.
He taketh away, and, in this case, He giveth.
Let's hope that He can give your team at least two more wins, as that should do the trick to seal the season.
And then you'll just have to deal with being humiliated at home in the playoffs...
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