When the Patriots face-off against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday, they will meet up with an old foe in Kurt Warner. Warner was the quarterback for the St. Louis Rams when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI. This time the situation will be much different. Things have changed since then.
The most obvious change is that Warner is now with the Cardinals, who are not the "Greatest Show On Turf" that the Rams were. The Cardinals are 8-6 and may finish with the worst record of any division champion this year. They will be the only team in their division with a record over .500.
The Patriots have also changed quite a bit since that Super Bowl, but they have also changed since opening day. The team has suffered many injuries to key players like Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney, and Rodney Harrison, but they have managed to win anyway. They have really shown their character.
Matt Cassel has really stepped up since he became the number one quarterback on opening day. He has progressed over the year, not unlike Tom Brady did in 2001 when Drew Bledsoe went down. Cassel has really become a force to be reckoned with and now is able to run the offense in a way that Brady would. Cassel has really helped the Pats stay on track.
The task that lies ahead for the Pats is to win out if they want to make the playoffs, but it starts with the game against the Cardinals on Sunday. The defense will have to contain Kurt Warner. They do not want to let the Cardinals' offense get hot. If the Pats can just hold them at bay, the Cardinals should not become too dangerous.
As for the Patriots' offense, they will have to protect Matt Cassel well. The Cardinals' defense is not the greatest. This defense has given up big days to many teams this year, and even the Viking's Tavaris Jackson last week. Cassel is very good when he is well protected. If the Pats can give him the time he needs, he should be in for a very good day.
The Patriots are not in a bad spot going into the last two weeks of the regular season. They are tied for first place in their division and they are also tied for the last wild card spot. As long as they win their games, they have a good shot at making the playoffs. From there, the sky is the limit.