Cardinals RB Beanie Wells evades a tackle during the last MNF meeting between the teams. Back then, they were fighting for first place. Tomorrow night they will be fighting for third.
This Monday night, the two teams tied for last place in football's worst division will duke it out for the chance to improve to 4-7.
No, neither team is St. Louis. They are actually only a game out of first, with sensational rookie Sam Bradford leading the way.
No, neither team is Seattle, who has struggled mightily in recent years. Believe it or not, the Hawks lead the division at a measly 5-5.
That only leaves the two teams nobody predicted to finish last in this crapshoot of a division pundits like to call the NFC West.
One of these teams won the division in back-to-back years and earned a Super Bowl berth in one; the other was widely predicted to finally break .500 after years of disappointment and letdown.
Yet, here the two teams are at 3-7 apiece. One dressed in red and white, the other in red and gold. (So much for the theory about red teams playing well.) One is led by a quarterback so pathetic even Cleveland didn't want him, the other by a former Heisman winner who was drafted late out of fear he would be a huge bust in the pros.
They will be playing each other at University of Phoenix Stadium at approximately 6:30 PM local time. Whichever team loses will see it's hopes of a winning record dashed before the thousands.
The really sad part? When it's all said and done, both teams could still be in the playoff race.
Who will win the NFC West in 2010?
Take a look at the rest of the division: Seattle leads at 5-5, with games against two division leaders coming up. Assuming they lose both of those games, they best they could finish is 9-7, which could be negated by a San Francisco victory in Week 14.
Judging by the remaining schedule, it is realistic to assume Seattle finishes with seven or eight wins this year.
St. Louis, meanwhile, faces the defending champs on the road, Kansas City at home and ends their season in Seattle. Even if Bradford and Co. can manage to win one of these contests, they still would finish no better than 8-8.
This keeps the NFC West door wide open for whoever wins Monday night, while potentially keeping it open just a crack for whoever loses.
The worst that could happen for either team is a loss tomorrow coupled with wins by Seattle and St. Louis today. This would put either team three games back with five remaining.
Neither team wants to face it, but for the one that has to it may not be as bad as it seems.
That is how pathetic this very division is—if you complete a division sweep, you are almost guaranteed a playoff spot.
And that is why the NFL needs realignment. Desperately.