In my combined years of blogging, doing a radio show, participating in football pools, and in other venues for predicting the outcomes of football games, I'm pretty sure that I've never picked the Washington Redskins to lose to the St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals. While the Cards have had their up periods and the Redskins haven't spent much time hanging with the NFL's elites lately, Washington has almost always been the better team in my view.
And even though it seems that the Cardinals are on the upswing and that the Redskins are still a mystery at this point in Jim Zorn's coaching tenure, I doubt that I'll go against that trend this time around.
To be sure, I've been wrong about my automatic pick on many occasions, some of them very costly losses for the Redskins. A loss in the 1975 game in St. Louis—I'll recap the Mel Gray game on Flashback Friday—sent the Redskins into a tailspin that knocked them out of the playoffs. Norv Turner's Redskins may well have made the playoffs in 1996 if not for a loss in a bizarre game at RFK Stadium. Boomer Esiason passed for 531 yards and the Redskins blew a game that they had won on several separate occasions.
However, those losses and some others too painful to recount illustrate the fact that it usually takes a quirk, a bad call, an extraordinary performance from an unexpected source, or some other freak of nature for the Cardinals to come out on top. In other words, things you can't predict have to happen for the Cards to beat the Redskins.
Kurt Warner having a big day would not fall under the category of things you can't predict. He passed for 361 yards and posted a perfect QB rating of 158.3 as the Cardinals slapped around the Dolphins last week. My first impression is that the Redskins are solid enough defensively to slow down Arizona's three-headed passing attack featuring Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
Take a look at the Cardinals' depth chart and show me a defensive player that is going to keep Greg Blache and company burning the midnight oil. These guys aren't even household names in their own households.
It seems as though every year this decade the Cardinals have been the trendy pick to be a "surprise" playoff team. Every year this decade they have failed.
With apologies to Dennis Green, the Cardinals are what I've always thought they were. I'm not sure what the Redskins are yet, but I'm inclined to think that whatever it is will be sufficient to beat the Cardinals at home.