Posted on: October 29, 2009 1:09 pm
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The 2009-2010 Phoenix Suns

Welcome to the 2009-2010 Phoenix Suns.  Gone are the days of true up tempo Suns basketball; we now enter the 36 year old, God I hope you don't break an ankle or tear an ACL era.  Yes Suns fans, we are a rebuilding team.  Don't get me wrong, if you are going to rebuild, it is a plus having Steve Nash orchestrate the offense, teaching while assisting.  Yet as the talent level in the Western Conference has risen, Steve Kerr with his U of A education and championship rings from San Antonio and Chicago has ruined an organization.  My organization.

What exactly do the Suns have this year and where are they going?  Let us take a look...

The Starters

Steve Nash, PG - The Nash Attack is back, Jack.  Yes, he is old.  But in Nash's case, he is just 'older'.  He always is in phenomenal shape and the ideal fit for the system Phoenix will run this year.  He is a 2 time MVP, and his ability to take over a game late, either passing or scoring, is what makes him a threat at all times.  We all know this.  My only complaint about Nash is he may have lost a step, and in doing so, the passing lanes aren't there like they used to be.  His is beginning to become a turnover liability.

Jason Richardson, SG - I have stated before and I'll state it again, I am a massive J Rich fan.  His pin point accuracy from beyond the 3 point line is a game changer.  He is athletic and high flying and due for a great season.  I feel that last year he held back a bit.  Last year, even with Alvin Gentry's integration of the run and gun, was an offense that featured Shaq.  Jason Richardson will have a bit more of the workload this season, and I believe he can thrive in doing so.  He is a two guard that can post up, rebound, and play physical.  Now if he can avoid those darn DUI's...

Grant Hill, SF - Is it me, or does he always looked surprised?  I'm surprised that he played in every game last season!  You can not deny the drive and will of Grant Over the Hill.  He is quick, he is intelligent, he is a leader.  His defense is par, but if his health remains, he is worth having.  There is no doubt that he is no Shawn Marion (thanks Kerr), but he will do.  His veteran presence will help mold the young basketball minds on the team.

Amar'e Stoudemire, PF - We all know the capabilities of this beast when healthy.  He is a force inside like no other, and his jump shot is what allows his interior dominance.  Yes, we have all be waiting for some sign of defensive dedication, and hopefully this is the year.  I'm guessing it isn't.  In a close game, STAT is the perfect power forward for his aggressive offensive nature allows him trips to the free throw line.  I pray for success for the Suns for one reason: if the Suns aren't doing well, a mid-season Amar'e trade will go down.  That would officially start an era of sub .500 seasons.

Channing Frye, C - Something tells me Steve Kerr is trying to sell some tickets with this acquisition.  Channing Frye is a local boy, playing his college ball down I-10 at the University of Arizona, and playing in the Phoenix area as a Knight from St. Mary's.  He is ideal for a run and gun offense with his jump shot and lack of shyness when pulling the trigger.  He isn't the best rebounder, and he has played second fiddle to other centers while in New York and Portland.  He is getting his opportunity here and now.  He may compliment Stoudemire very well.  I think this was a good, not great, pick up.

The Bench

Leandro Barbosa, SG
- I believe the Suns have an above average and energetic bench, and it starts with The Blur.  He is quick, perhaps the quickest player in the NBA, and a threat to score at anytime.  When he was let off the back-up PG leash, he began to thrive.  You have to love that you can not game plan for Barbosa.  There are so many different ways he can beat you.  On any other NBA team, he'd be starting.  We are lucky that before Colangelo left he signed this guy to a long term deal.  Don't trade him Kerr.

Jared Dudley, SF - After loosing Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to the Charlotte Bobcats last season, I knew that this was the best deal in the Kerr era.  Yes, Jason Richardson was the centerpiece, but as a fan of ACC basketball, I knew who Jared Dudley was.  Much akin to the rest of the Suns bench, he is a high energy player who takes full advantage of the minutes allotted to him.  I love any defense played by Phoenix (it is such a rare thing) and he brings it in by the wheel barrel.  His scoring needs to increase from 5.5 points per game, but as long his execution of the little things continue, I won't complain.

Louis Amundson, PF - His coordination looks off.  His shot looks off.  Even his hairdo looks off.  But his game is spot on.  The Gazelle proves one cliche wrong, white boys can jump!  Like Dudley, he is scrappy and hard nosed.  This boy can run, too, which helps the fast pace in which to bench needs to play.  He worked on his free throw shooting ability, and I love this move.  He is a magnet for the basket, and if he can raise his FT%, he will become an even greater asset to the team.  He is goofy, but he gets it done.

Goran Dragic, PG - The left hander is now in his second year in the league, and his confidence is growing.  He can stop on a dime a score, but he will have to increase his point guard abilities as the season progresses.  Heck, he has the best coach in the league starting in front of him.  Start taking notes kid.  He has great potential, and if the second half of last season is any barometer, we might have a replacement for Nash.  Time will tell, but I like the idea of Dragic.

Alando Tucker, SF - He was fun to watch at Wisconsin and has the ability to log some solid minutes.  He has enough defensive skill to earn some minutes; it is just a matter of Alando making an impact.  I liked the move when we drafted him, I just thought I'd see more production by now.

Robin Lopez, C - Oh no!  Side Show Bob hurt his foot!

Earl Clark, PF - I am really high on this rookie from Louisville.  He has everything it takes to be a great player in the NBA: size, speed, and a good basketball mind.  That is what you get when drafting a Rick Pitino product.  If Gentry is smart, he will play this guy often with the second team, and many times with the first.  He can have a positive impact if given the chance.  This guy isn't going to be good, he is going to be great.

That is this year's version of the Phoenix Suns.  What will they do this year?  I'll tell you this: the Suns are like an exgirlfiend you never get over.  I'm always wanting more from them, but they'll never give it.  I am scared to start watching them again, but with every new season brings new hope.  I guess that makes me a sucker.  It is my opinion that they will do well this season.  The West is not as strong as it was last year.  I feel Houston is weaker, as is Utah.  The 46-36 record that cost the Suns a trip to the playoffs last season could get them a #6 seed this year.  That being said, the West still has the Lakers

Here is my prediction:

Phoenix Suns will be 45-37 and be bounced in the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs.

I hope I'm wrong and they bring a championship home.  Go Suns.

Posted on: September 15, 2009 3:41 pm
 

Leinart Time

Week 1 was a massive disappointment to say the least.  The very least.  These are the defending NFC Champions and they appeared to be completely out of sync.  Is it too early for to ask Kurt Warner to sit and watch?  I think not.

Many fans do not follow, enjoy, or appreciate the preseason.  They are meaningless games to the fan; a tease of Sunday's yet to come.  Some care not of the hard work and true passion played by the hopefuls.  If you are a true fan of football and a team, then you may see the preseason differently.  The off-season is long, and players go through a variety of changes in this time.  Physical well being (or lack thereof), mental preparation, and life changing events can effect a player and their production just as it would you or I.  The preseason gives us that first glance of the season and in doing so exposes the players at their rawest and most vulnerable.  You can learn many things about the season ahead based on performances and quirks seen in the preseason.  Although the effectiveness of players is apparantly highly problematic during this time and shouldn't be overanalyzed, it is still a great barometer.

I will not sugar coat this next statement:  Kurt Warner played like dog shit in the preseason.  I could delve into the numbers and lack of excellence achieved in little playing time, but that would just disprove my previous statement pertaining to over analyzation.  I will pose this point of view however.  Just because Warner led the team to the Super Bowl deosn't mean he is the best quarterback for this team.  I'll explain.  Warner and Leinart battled throughout the preseason of 2008 for the starting position of quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals.  Kurt Warner outshined Leinart and definitively won the spot.  He then led the team to a 9-7 record and an extraordinary run through the playoffs.  We all know the story and thank him for it.  He was then rewarded a new contract, as well he should. 

Entering the 2009 season Kurt Warner was the heir apparant to the throne.  Why should he not be?  Yet in the preseason, not only was he outplayed by Leinart, he didn't play well at all.  In routes in which his receivers were wide open in the flat, his throws were out of bounds.  On seam routes to tight ends up the middle, his tosses were too high.  In situations that called for the long ball, his powerful right arm threw ducks that quacked through the night.  I understand what he did last season, but this is this year.  Leinart's calm pocket presence and quick decision making, two qualities I have always felt eluded the USC alum, were crisp and poignant in the preseason.  If this were the 2008 and the two were fighting for the position, Leinart would have won with flying colors and without question.  You are supposed to put the best player in the game, right?  Matt Leinart has been the better player for more than a month now. 

Following the loss to the San Francisco 49ers in which Kurt Warner performed at the same level as he did in the preseason, I believe it is Matt Leinart time.  I don't know if Matt has earned it more than Kurt has handed it to him, but I feel if this team wants to make an effort towards repeating as NFC Champions (or make the playoffs for that matter), Ken Whisenhunt must make this decision.  Perhaps Kurt Warner has peaked, perhaps the hip surgery didn't go as well as we all hoped, and perhaps I am jumping the gun too soon on this thing.  It is only Week 1.  Yet after what I watched in the preseason, I feel Matt Leinart took the necessary steps in the offseason to be the franchise quarterback we all envisioned he'd be. 

Time will tell whether or not Whisenhunt puts Leinart in (unlikely I guess), but I hope we aren't 0-3 when he makes his decision.
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 27, 2009 3:17 pm
 

Cheer, Cheer For Old Notre Dame

Notre Dame Fighting Irish football.  These simple words incite intrigue and debate, sparking conversation both pro and con, inducing words of concurrence and disgust.  What is considered by many as the greatest collegiate football program is undoubtedly the most storied.  As with the New York Yankees, the Duke Blue Devils, and the Dallas Cowboys, people either love or hate the Irish; there is no middle ground.  I am a fan of Notre Dame.

As a Roman Catholic child being raised in the Pacific 10 infested area of the Greater Los Angeles basin, I learned from an early age what autumn and Saturday meant.  My father, as his father before him, breathed Fighting Irish football (a fact cemented at my grandfathers’ funeral, for as his casket left St. Thomas Catholic Church, the Notre Dame fight song was played).  No one in my family carries the distinction of being an alum, yet a diploma from the university is not needed to watch and admire the team.  Being a nationally televised program, Notre Dame games were passionately voiced by Peter Jackson, and on Saturday mornings, the television was filled with golden domes and leprechauns. 

I grew up watching players such as Tim Brown, Tony Rice, Ricky Watters, Jerome Bettis, Rick Mirer, and every child’s favorite ‘Rocket’ Ismail.  Reenacting game breaking plays on the asphalt fields of Southern California, as most children did, connected me further with the team from South Bend.  My father taught me the tradition unmatched by no other school: The Four Horsemen, the 11 National Championships, the 7 Heisman trophy winners, and what it meant to be a fan of Notre Dame.  My first memories of watching and understanding the great sport of football occurred during their epic matches, and I learned early on what disappointment felt like and how to be a humble fan.  Humility is necessary for Irish follower.  Unlike the pompous fans of USC, the prideful fans of Michigan, or the annoying fans of Michigan State, Notre Dame fans carry themselves in a different way.  I say this more from a hopeful observational stance for I know very few Notre Dame fans.  Living now in Phoenix, Arizona, I am the exception.  No one here routes for Notre Dame success. 

After a very brief (and extremely exciting) National Championship in 1988 at the age of 6, I have not had a season to celebrate since.  I am known by all as an Irish supporter, yet I never am outspoken about the team and their exploits.  Never too high, never too low (yes, even in 2007), for me a simple, “Go Irish” says all I need to say.  There is no need to carry pride on my shoulder, for if I do, Notre Dame will put me in my place.  Take for example 1993.  After upsetting #1 ranked Florida State, newly crowned #1 Notre Dame loses on a last second field goal to Boston College.  With the kick went the national title hopes.  One week of being proud instantly flushed, by a fellow Catholic college no less.  How about 2005?  The “Bush push” leads USC over Notre Dame after a suspenseful fourth quarter .  A 22 year old kid has his heart broken, and his friends are there to stomp it into the pavement. 

One thing I’ve learned with the losses comes persecution.  As stated earlier, I am not outspoken about Notre Dame, I am only straightforward in my support of the team.  There is no ‘shit talking’ for a truly am pessimistic as each opponent is faced.  Yet when Notre Dame does not gain victory, text messages and phone calls are aplenty.  I almost am masochistic when dealing with the pain of defeat.  I own scars from past gridiron battles lost, and I feel them in my soul.  When the Victory March plays, it is the anthem of my spirit and the battle hymn of my team.  It is what sets me apart from all other supporters of different teams.  I know the bandwagoners, chasing National Championships with their college football alliances.  They know not what true defeat is for they have never truly cared for a football team.  Seeing as how I am a dying breed, I find there is no one to help console my wounds.  Not a soul, expect dear old dad.

It is with great optimism every year that I welcome a new season.  Each game represents another chance.  With victory comes elation.  With elation comes hope.  The other beauty I find in winning is not making phone calls to my USC, Purdue, Navy, Michigan and Michigan State friends.  When I see them I say nothing of the previous weekend and the match that occurred.  They know.

Although most of the country dogs Notre Dame, not many have legit reasons why.  Most my close acquaintances don’t like them due to the fact that I do.  Perhaps the majority feel the Irish are allotted too much time in the media spotlight or that there is too much emphasis on a team that has done little in the past two decades.  I can understand these points of view, and is most cases, I wish ESPN would lay off the constant Irish watching.  Let us do our football do the talking.  That way when we don’t perform up to our standard, I can sit through a telecast and observe what else is going on in the world of NCAA football.  Because when Notre Dame plays poorly, the media lets you know.

Why do so many people love the sport?  No paychecks, no crying, just passion.  It represents (especially in scorching Phoenix) the end of summer and the beginning of heaven.  We must all respect the opposition and have that hope for our team and their aspirations.  All true fans of all teams have their stories of their love affairs with college football.  This was mine.  Go Irish.

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 24, 2009 9:56 pm
 

The Preseason and Matt Leinart

The Cardinals are now 0-2 as the preseason rolls on.  I say "So what?"  In all honestly, as many of us know, the preseason means little as far as the wins and losses go.  It means everything for the fan, however.  You hear it all the time, "It's just the preseason.  Who cares?  These games don't count."  I beg to differ.  This is the time of year in which the fan is given the opportunity to truly know their team.  We can all be arm chair quarterbacks, playing the "what if" game, predicting what Ken Whisenhunt should do next.  The depth chart opens wide as we watch these games, learning more about the construction of the Cardinals with every snap.  Now is the time to understand all aspects of the team as the Fight For 53 continues. 

Like most of America, I am an avid player of fantasy football.  For those who play, they know the double edged sword we carry.  You love your team and that can be contradictory to what you need for fantasy success.  Playing out possible scenarios is part of the fun (okay, I need Warner to throw a TD, but not to Boldin), but it does feel as if it ruins part of the allure of the game.  The preseason holds no value in the world of fantasy, and I feel as if this time of year is the time in which the true passion of the game is being put forth.  Men are not fighting as much for their contracts as they are for the simple chance to play and affect an NFL football game.

In watching the Arizona Cardinals preseason through the eyes of a fan, I will give my input up to this point.  Allow me to say this before I continue: I am not a Matt Leinart fan.  I never have been.  I religiously follow Notre Dame football, and being a resident of Phoenix, Arizona makes me an Arizona State Sun Devil supporter as well.  Leinart beat my teams regularly while playing for Southern Cal, and his ‘being a product of a system’ has been a nice and easy argument since his lack of production since entering the NFL.  Up to this point in the preseason, he has impressed me.  Granted he is playing against 2<sup>nd</sup> and 3<sup>rd</sup> team defenses, he has been doing something I have never seen him do: he is releasing the ball quicker.

My main complaint in the past when watching Matt Leinart is his lack of a quick release and poor decision making.  When a quarterback takes a three, five, or seven step drop, the idea is that when the last foot hits the ground, the decision as to where the ball needs to go has been made and the ball is airborne.  In seasons past this has not been Leinart’s forte.  He would take a five step drop and bounce around, standing in the pocket without making judgment, waiting for the inevitable blindside sack from an opposing defense.  In other cases the pressure would make the unsure footed Leinart flee, leading to a pass thrown out of desperation into a defenders arm.

Thus far he has been the contrary.  His calm demeanor and quick decision making has him looking like a professional quarterback.  Although Kurt Warner holds the job down, as well he should, you must be impressed by the work put in by Leinart.  Perhaps he has been listening to Warner, a man who could be the best mentor for a young quarterback in the league.  As the preseason rolls on we will find out more about what the 2009-2010 Arizona Cardinals are all about.  Enjoy this time of year, for it is the purest time in a sport full of multi-million dollar players concerned with touches not victories.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 13, 2009 10:16 am
 

The Heartless D'Backs and No Retaliation

Mark Grace had a right to be fuming in the press box last night.  The Arizona Diamondbacks, a team with no heart and no spark, sat by as Micah Owings plunked Ryan Roberts in the elbow.  It was clearly an intentional HBP, as it occurred on the first pitch of the at bat, following an inning in which Brandon Phillips was buzzed.  Could this be the single act that would set off a light in every Diamondback?  Was this the chance to show what kind of team they really are?  It was, and they showed it. 

The Diamondbacks have become a lackluster shell of untapped potential this year.  They lack pizzazz, swagger, spunk, and anger.  They have become a team of free swinging idiots that miss everything in the strike zone and pop up pitchers' mistakes.  Throughout the 2007 run to the playoffs, you saw a gritty young team not afraid of making mistakes, most notably on the base paths.  It was a team with will power, and that determination brought them all the way to the NLCS.  This year you have Eric "I Run Into Outs to Prove I'm Hustling" Brynes attempting to take second after the right fielder has the ball or stealing third with no outs.  Chris Young, although I love his defense, needs to take a trip to AAA Tucson and remember what hitting a baseball feels like.  Mark Reynolds can hit a ball 475 feet (once every 15 AB's) but strikes out too frequently (once every 2.85 AB's).  Firing Bob Melvin was not the answer.

On Tuesday night, the Diamondbacks had a chance to stand up for themselves as well as one of their own.  It was an opportunity to say, "We're not taking this shit anymore.  We're not lying down."  Instead new manager A.J. Hinch decided to pitch to the Reds in the top of the 9th, business as usual.  I feel the anger of Mark Grace.  This team has so much talent and an incredible amount of potential.  Someone needs to light a spark under their ass.  Perhaps a bench clearing brawl would do the trick.  Instead, the Diamondbacks sat in their home dugout once again, watching the visiting team shake hands after yet another loss.  It was a lack of retaliation the spoke volumes about the team. 
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 11, 2009 11:20 am
 

The Amar'e Situation

Rumors are flying around like flies around crap.  Amare is a hot trade topic, but I guess my question is why?  Why would Steve Kerr do such a thing?  Why is he completely and utterly dismantling the Phoenix Suns?  It is as if he wants to reassemble the 1998 Eastern Conference NBA All Star team, considering his main acquisitions have been Grant Hill and Shaq.  Why would you take the best power forward in the game, the starting PF in the All Star game, and the best young talent on the team and even consider trading him?  We know that Kerr isn't a fan of athletic players entering their prime, just look at the departure of Shawn Marion.

I have been a Suns fan for quite some time.  That equates to a lot of disappointing playoff runs.  If Steve Kerr deals Amare, that's it.  I can not watch a GM who doesn't  try to solve problems through coaching (who pressures a coach that wins 50+ games four years in a row to leave?).  It seems that whenever abrasiveness is presented to Kerr, he must trade.  He is too trade happy.  Wherever Amare goes, I am instantly a fan of that team.  Nash, Hill, and Shaq are old.  There time is this league is nearing it's end.  What happens when they are gone?  Rookies and no leadership, with Terry Porter trying to run a 1990 Trail Blazers scheme in a modern league. 

This is what happens when we let a former Spur run our team.

Amare goes, I boycott!

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 30, 2009 8:58 pm
 

The Super Bowl thru a Cardinals Fans' Eyes

Football.  The new ‘National Pastime.’  Nowhere in the world is it loved, appreciated, and worshiped like right here in the United States of America.  While the rest of the world is caught up in soccer (football to those in foreign countries), we as Americans count the days off the calendar until the season begins.  As the leaves begin their annual change of tint, we know what time it is.  It is time for our sport. It is time for some football.

Why do we love this game like we do?  Why do we paint our faces?  Why do we stand in the freezing cold, shirtless, yelling until we can scream no more?  Considering there is but one champion every year, why do we put ourselves through the disappointment?  Why do we judge others based on their affiliation and affection for a certain team?  Why do we care?  Why do you care?

I can not speak for the masses; I can only speak for me.  It is in the simple chaos every play produces.  Football is a physically cerebral game, for unless there is knowledge, mass means little.  Football is mano y mano.  Football is the exactness of a pass and the completion due to the precision of the route.  Football is the trenches.  Football is blood and passion.  Football is sport.  Football is execution. Football is ‘there is always next year.’

Perhaps next year is this year.

Everything that players of football aspire to be will occur Sunday.  Champions.  Although a total of 256 regular season games are played annually, we recognize greatness through the test of the post season.  Only one game is left to determine who is supreme.  For the first time in my personal existence, I truly feel the hype and passion that only a Super Bowl appearance brings.  I am an Arizona Cardinals fan.

Super Bowl XLIII.  Who will win?  Why?  It is the game that is most over-analyzed in pro sports.  This year I am thouroughly enjoying up all of the media attention.  Last year was a spectacle for me personally.  I work at the Westin Kierland Resort, the resort where the New England Patriots resided during Super Bowl XLII.  Seeing professional football players and coaches parading around in the deepest of concentration was a lifetime experience. This year, the Arizona Cardinals vie for the championship.  It was a blast hosting the Super Bowl last year; it is a dream being in the Super Bowl this year.

Many factors will determine the result of this battle (um…duh?)  Say what you will, this is my opportunity to say what I will.  This is what will sway the game. 

Cardinals Offense v. Steelers Defense.  We all know how explosive the Cardinals offense is, as well as how dominate the Steelers defense is.  With the Steelers 3-4 look and blitz packages staring at Kurt Warner, life will not be easy for the 37 year old quarterback.  The simple fact that the Steelers will be dropping an extra linebacker into coverage could spell disaster for the Cards’ O.  Warner is smart enough to get the ball to his desired receiver, but if he is pressured into not being quick enough, his intelligence means little. 

Cardinals Key:  Edgerrin James.  Not only is the running game necessary (although  not crucial) for the Cardinals’ success, it is Edge’s pass blocking ability that will be his biggest impact on the game.  If he can slow the Steelers pass rush and give Warner time, the Cardinals win this aspect of the game.

Steelers Key:  Ike Taylor.  The containment of Larry Fitzgerald is the obvious key for the Steelers.  Do not forget about the other two 1000+ yard receivers, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.  Ike Taylor might have to come down in coverage, especially if Pittsburgh blitzes numerous times, and Taylor could be left on an island to defend these guys.  It isn’t so much his coverage that I see as a key, it is his tackling that could be significant.

Steelers Offense v. Cardinals Defense:  If the Cardinals achieve success here, they win.  Ben Roethlisberger can be described easily with but one word: dangerous.  His ability to create while under pressure is what sets him apart from other NFL quarterbacks.  Big Ben will be facing a defense that’s strength is athleticism, but is weak pressuring the quarterback on a consistent basis.  In the NFC Championship Game, the Cardinals gave Donovan McNabb too much time in the pocket.  It was McNabb who defeated himself with errand throws.

Steelers Key:  Willie Parker.  We all know what Roethlisberger can do.  The guy has proven that even if he goes 9-21 with 2 picks (a la Super Bowl XL), he can still win.  The running game is vital for Pittsburgh.  Keeping Kurt Warner and the Arizona offense off the field with long, sustained drives that result in points is the objective, and Willie Parker must deliver.

Cardinals Key:  The Linebacker Core.  Why all three?  To stop Willie Parker, of course.  Pressuring Ben Roethlisberger into mistakes and plugging the gaps is needed if Bill Bidwell wants to sheepishly hoist another trophy.  When Arizona was playing poorly at the end of the year, it was the inferior tackling ability of the linebackers that kept opposing drives alive.  Tackle like men, Cardinals.

So, in theory, this is what each team needs to do in order to take home the Lombardi Trophy.  What will happen?  God only knows, and he’ll tell us come Sunday.  I can make a prediction, at that is this:

Arizona 27, Pittsburgh 20

No need to talk shit, no need to point fingers.  As a Cardinals fan, I have never earned the right do either.  All I know is that no matter what happens, I have to thank the Arizona Cardinals for the excitement and anxiety that have accompanied these past two weeks.  So this is what it feels like.  I hope with every ounce of my fiber that they bring home the most coveted trophy is American sports.

Go Cardinals!

Posted on: January 15, 2009 9:50 am
 

The NFC Championship

Are you ready Cardinals’ fans? 20 years of the ‘same old Cardinals’ and the anguish that has coupled it will come to a peak on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. In a mere 6 minutes the game was sold out. We are the 12<sup>th</sup> Man. Get loud. Get crazy. Get a win.

The key to shutting down the Panthers was containing the run game. After their first possession, the Panthers looked to be headed towards the result they achieved 8 times at home this year: victory. But then the Cards’ D showed how vicious they can be. 5 interceptions and a fumble recovery later, Carolina was eliminated to the tune of a 33-13 Cardinals ass kicking. That triumph, along with a Philadelphia Eagles win over the reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, means one thing. Now we play for the NFC Championship. At home.

Holy shit.

I feel like most Cardinals fans do right now. I am shocked and unsure. As a 26 year old I have never seen the Cards do anything (minus 1 playoff win against Dallas in the ’97 season). This is a team that has one playoff victory in 61 seasons. They are the only NFC team never to make the championship game since the merger 39 years ago. I don’t understand these feelings that I am feeling. I do not know what it is like to care about football this late in a season. I am normally a playoff spectator, watching the NFL as a fan of the game, not a fan of a team. This is awesome.

Onto Sunday’s game against the Eagles. This team destroyed us on Thanksgiving night, evoking upset stomachs across the Grand Canyon State. McNabb was starting after being benched the previous game, and he led his team to a 48-20 victory. Now normally I am a pessimistic Cards fan, but I feel optimistic about this one. Why? The Cardinals played that game after 3 days of rest following a game against the very physical Giants. They also had to travel 2340 miles and two times zones to play them. Excuses? No. But probable reasons.

So what is the key to beating the Eagles and, dare I say, advancing to the Super Bowl. Containment. The Cardinals defense has looked phenomenal as of late, and pressing McNabb into bad decisions (a la Jake Delhomme) is a must. What hurt the Cardinals in the Week 13 was Brian Westbrook. Spy this guy, cover this guy, and destroy this guy. If Anquan Boldin can take the field, the advantage swings drastically in our favor. Know this: there is no way the Eagles are going to leave Larry Fitzgerald as open as the Carolina Panthers did. No way.

Playing at home is a massive advantage in the NFC Championship game. The home team has won the game 68% of the time. We will not travel back to the left coast for this one. We got them right here in our backyard, where the Cardinals (including the NFC Wild Card win over the Atlanta  Falcons) are 7-2 this year. Let’s continue this trend.

So how do I see it playing out? That Philly defense, which hasn’t allowed more than 14 points since they played the Cardinals, will not dominate as much as many people think. They are great against the run, but we are a passing team.

My pick: Arizona 34, Philadelphia 27.

Get loud Cardinals fans. Make their ears bleed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com