Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CARDINALS VIE WITH EAGLES FOR TOP NEST IN THE NFC

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Bird watchers everywhere are eagerly anticipating the Sunday, January 18th National Football Conference championship game between the Airheadzona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles. This Peckfest is drawing comparisons to the David vs. Goliath match-up, but it’s really more of a story about how the early Eagle gets the worm.

Awww, but wait just a minute here! Isn’t there a prophecy in The Holy Bible’s book of Revelation stating that “When the red bird flies West for the Winter showdown” it’s a sign of the End-Times? If so, this then, of course, is good news for the Cardinals and bad news for the world. As the Wise Old Man of the Mountain says: “Oh well… so be it.” But wouldn’t it just figure that the best thing that could happen to arguably the worst franchise in professional sports would be the worst thing that could happen to the rest of the world? Oh, the delicious irony. Please, sir, can I have some more?

This entire scenario, with the Airheadzona Cardinals playing for a spot in Super Bowl XLIII is just off-the-charts improbable. I mean, it’s just silly, ya know, like silly? Here we have an organization that has proven time and time again that winning doesn’t really interest it. But the taxpayers buy it a new stadium anyway (stupid taxpayers!), and then the old bird, Bill Bi(r)dwill, finally steps aside to let his son run the operations and the “Same Old Cardinals” (as we in Phoenix have grown accustomed to calling them), that went 9 and 7 in the weakest division in football and beat only two teams during the regular season who ended the year with winning records, are suddenly flying high and in a dogfight for the Conference title. Unbeweevable!

Well, I’m not a Bi(r)dwill fan, nor a Cardinals fan, but I am a KURT WARNER fan, and so I will wear red on Sunday and root for the Arizona “Kurtinals.”

Kurt Warner, the guy who got kicked to the side only to later win a Championship and League and Super Bowl MVPs; who, while on the world’s biggest stage was asked to comment and rather than say “I’m going to Disneyland!” said, “First things first...” and then proceeded to praise his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; Warner, who later started up a foundation for ill and handicapped children and named it “First Things First”; Warner who, as a backup quarterback here and there and everywhere, did everything in his power to help improve the play of the guy who was starting at the position ahead of him; Warner, as classy an individual as has ever donned a National Football League uniform - how could anyone NOT be a Kurt Warner fan? Why, as the song goes: “If you don’t like Kurt Warner, you can kiss my a##!” (Well, yes, the song says “Hank Williams”, not Kurt Warner. But other than the lucky number thirteen on a jersey, a little Country twang, and a hunert and forty-seven Cadillacs, what’s the difference?)

This team seems to be feeding on its “underbird” status and the disrespectful comments about it coming from the media and current and former NFL players. How else does one explain the astounding change in the level of their play since the regular season ended and the playoffs began? Well, personally, I believe a more rational explanation is that space aliens abducted the Cardinal team and replaced it with football players. But heck, maybe I’m alone in that opinion.

I just thought I’d share with you some stuffs that has been in the local paper, The Arizona Republic (a.k.a. “The Daily Disappointment”), and one item from USA Today:

"SUPER BOWL IS JUST 1 HOME WIN AWAY" by Kent Somers in “The Daily Disappointment”; Monday, January 12:

The Cardinals started last week as 10-point underdogs [to the Carolina Panthers] and with [Pro-Bowl receiver] Boldin hobbled by a hamstring strain. Neither situation improved much as the week progressed, and Boldin sat out. “The guys made me a promise,” Boldin said. “They told me they would give me another week. They were true to their word.” … Before this season, 61 years had passed since their last home playoff game. ... There is a sense that larger forces are at work here. Depending upon your point of view, it could be divine intervention, good fortune or just the business structure of the NFL, which is designed to give the downtrodden a chance. Maybe the Cardinals just finally took the league up on it.

In his "KEEPING SCORE" column for USA Today, Michael McCarthy (no relation) had this to say on Monday, January 12:

THE UGLY: What was the point of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb pretending to make a phone call from the Giants sideline after running out of bounds with the game well in hand? Fox announcers Troy Aikman and Joe Buck thought it was a bush-league move. “Sometimes, I don’t know what goes through that guy’s head,” Aikman said.

Well, I think I do. I think McNabb is just a Terrell Owens wannabe. That strikes me as a typical “Look At Me, Everyone!” Owens stunt. And it’s mighty cocky behavior for a guy who was benched due to poor play just some weeks back. Compare McNabb’s demeanor to the consistent humility of a Kurt Warner. If there’s any justice in the universe (and I sometimes wonder), a freshly re-humbled McNabb will find himself eating chips and dip in his La-Z-Boy recliner and watching classy Kurt march the Arizona Kurtinals down the Tampa Bay Super Bowl field of play on February 1st.

On Tuesday, January 13, Dan Bickley of “The Daily Disappointment” wrote the following about all the disrespect and disbelief surrounding the Arizona Cardinals:

A Philadelphia columnist said, “The hardest part of the job is done.” An ESPN.com columnist belittled the Cardinals’ chances under a headline that read, “Let’s Book Eagles for Tampa.” That should be plenty of material for this group. If not, there’s one last item on which to chew. It happened during a news conference with quarterback Donovan McNabb before the divisional playoffs, after the Eagles had made the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Q: “S.I. called you guys a very dangerous team right now. How dangerous do you think you guys are?”

McNABB: “Well, they called the Cardinals dangerous, too. It’s a regional copy.”

Deep laughter filled the room. … For them, the verdict on the Cardinals came during the Eagles’ 48-20 win on Thanksgiving.

Indeed. But if the Eagles go into Sunday’s game believing that they will be facing the same Cardinals team that they trounced in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving, they are going to be taken by surprise, just like the Falcons and the Panthers were. This is not – I repeat, NOT – the “Same Old Cardinals.” I don’t know who they are, actually, but they’re coming to play some serious football. These are not the defenseless worms that the Eagles feasted on Thanksgiving night. Beware, Apollo McNabb, the Cardinals “Don’t know it’s a damn show; they think it’s a damn fight!”

But I knew all along that the Cardinals would be playing in the NFC Championship; I deduced it long ago. Nah. I’m lyin’ like an old dog on the front porch. Anyone who tells you that they foresaw the Cardinals being in this position is yankin’ yer chain. Although I will admit that, from the very beginning of post-season play, my buddy Mr. Paul was much more optimistic about the Kurtinals than I was. He said right from the start that they had a real chance. I was so sure they didn’t that it cost me one hundred dollars to the charity of Mr. Paul’s choice.

One person, however, DID foresee the Cardinals playing in the NFC Championship. And on their home turf, no less. And this person was a SHE! Stick that on your grill and smoke it, boys!

"MOM'S PLAYOFF VISION COMES TRUE FOR FB SMITH" by Kent Somers and Richard Obert for “The Daily Disappointment”; Tuesday, January 13:

It was in April, when the breast cancer had spread to her brain and she was in the toughest battle of her life, that Cardinals fullback Terrelle Smith’s mother first told him of her vision. She said she saw him playing at home in the NFC Championship Game. Nine months later, it’s happening. “Doctors say sometimes they get delusional and, at times, we thought she was,” Smith said. “But now it lines up. It makes sense, and it tells me what to fight for every week.” She won’t get to see it. She died in December. Smith’s father died four years earlier. Smith said he is dedicating Sunday’s game against the Eagles to both parents. “I’m keeping a positive out of something that could devastate you badly,” Smith said.

Does the fact that Smith’s Mother saw him playing in the NFC Championship, but not the Super Bowl, mean that the Cardinals will lose against the Eagles on Sunday? Not necessarily. As I contemplated this situation further, it occurred to me that she may have seen just this far for a reason: Every football player’s dream is to make it to the Super Bowl, and every football player’s parents share that dream with their kid. Seeing Smith in the Super Bowl would have been too idealistic, too common for a vision. What player couldn’t reply, “Yeah, I envision that too, Ma.” No, the NFC Championship is much more specific. And the detail about it being a home game adds even more credence to the prophecy. Cardinals? NFC Championship? At home? Nope, there’s strange stuffs afoot here.

I’m now predicting that the Airheadzona Kurtinals will beat the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. The fact that every single one of my predictions thus far in the NFL post-season has been wrong might mean I’ve just given the red birds the kiss of death. But I’m looking at it in more of a Waylon Jennings kinda way.

In his 1996 autobiography, one of the many great stories Waylon tells has him inadvertently insulting some dude who was at least as large as the largest defensive linemen in the NFL. The monster caught up with Waylon backstage after the show:

“I just wanted to hear ‘Green River’ and you smarted off at me. How’d you like me to slap some of that smartness out of you?”

I was staring at his belt buckle. He was big; he looked like he’d fight a circle saw. I knew I was in trouble. My adrenaline started flowing. … “Look,” I said to him, “I have had one hundred and seventy-five fights in my life, and I’ve lost every one of them. You’d do well not to f - - k with me because I’m bound to win one someday.” He started laughing, and so did I, and we became friends after that.

I feel the same way. The law of averages dictates that as an amateur football prognosticator, I’m overdue to get one right. Why not this one?

But this much I will say with supreme confidence: IF the Arizona Cardinals manage to pull an upset and beat the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday to advance to Super Bowl XLIII, they will also win the Super Bowl, regardless of whether they are the “underbirds” against the Ravens or the “underbirds” against the Steelers. The Angel of The Lord does not carry you across the wilderness only to abandon you at the locked gates of The Father’s Mansion.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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6 comments:

mousiemarc said...

Everyone knows McNabb is a punk... He's really not that great a quarter back. All they have to do is STOP THE RUN and KEEP HIM IN THE POCKET. Make him throw medium to long passes where his LACK OF SKILL will be fully displayed. The guy is a better wanna be tight end then a quarter of a back. If the Cardinals lose it will because they didn't make McNabb beat them with his arm. Plus, don't turn the ball over on the eagles Blitzing defense. Take care brother.

Marc

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

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>>[Everyone knows McNabb is a punk...]<<

Well, everyone except for his Campbell's soup-swilling mother. Ha!

>>[If the Cardinals lose it will because they didn't make McNabb beat them with his arm.]<<

I agree. Given enough pressure, McNabb should choke and turn the ball over. I mean, really, why should this Sunday be any different?

The Cardinals are coming to PLAY! And if the Eagles don't catch on to that fact soon enough, they could find themselves having to play catch-up, with McNabb having to rely on the passing game. And that's when the desperation passes will fall into the wrong [RIGHT!] hands.

I really think that Philadelphia might get caught with the "Apollo Creed mind-set" - like the Falcons and the Panthers did - thinking that (based on their Thanksgiving Night game) the "Kurtinals" are just a little pimple trying to block their path to the Super Bowl. They're in for a big surprise!

I myself refused to believe the change in the Cardinals until sometime after that Carolina game. Now I KNOW it's a different team.

But you gotta remember: I've been watching the Cardinals' "miraculous" losses up close and personal, here in Airheadzona, since '92, so I was a little harder to convince than any non-Airheadzona football fan would be.

>>[Plus, don't turn the ball over on the eagles Blitzing defense.]<<

Right on, BR'ER! This is the primary thing the Cardinals need to be aware of. If they can pick up the blitzes long enough to quickly dump the pass off to Fitzgerald or Boldin on some short crossing routes, then those receivers will have LOTS of daylight after the catch, and they'll take the starch out of the Eagles' wings while shredding them to death.

HANG ON TO THE BALL, KURT!!!

(Say, how'd you learn about football? I thought you were one of those "churchy" guys.
Ha!-Ha!
Just teasin' ya, man!)

Yak Later...

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>

mousiemarc said...

I would say ol Kurt worked it to perfection. The steelers will be a little harder, but same concept. The weakness in their D is their corners (though their not horrible). Keep Rothlesberger in the pocket and get to him quickly. That will also help stop the run. Time of possesion will be important in this game. They can't allow the Steelers to use up a lot of clock and wear down their defense. Arizona MUST get first downs everytime they get the ball, score or not. That's how the Steelers get you. The game is close until the fourth quarter where the Defense gets tired, and the offense makes mistakes due to trying to make something happen out of nothing.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

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>>[The steelers will be a little harder...]<<

Yes. They're made of steel, not flesh 'n' feathers, like the Eagles were.

But I think the final result will be the same. Yet then again, what do I know? If I had any smarts at all, I never would have moved to Airheadzona to begin with.

>>[The weakness in their D is their corners (though their not horrible).]<<

Yes. But I think they will have plenty of trouble trying to contain Fitzgerald. He's simply the best receiver in the game today.

>>[Time of possesion will be important in this game. They can't allow the Steelers to use up a lot of clock and wear down their defense.]<<

Right on, Brother. I think I would just dink my way down the field, and air it out or run just enough to keep their defense honest.

I personally felt that in that last game, the "Kurtinals" should have passed even more than they did. The Eagles never showed any sign of being able to slow down Fitzgerald on those short and mid-range passes, and Airheadzona could have exploited that to an even greater degree. I got really tired of seeing Edge run for 2 yards on every first and ten situation.

>>[The game is close until the fourth quarter where the Defense gets tired, and the offense makes mistakes due to trying to make something happen out of nothing.]<<

Yeah, Brother, the Kurtinals will not likely jump so far out in front, like they were able to do with the Eagles. For one thing, the Steeler D scares me, and for another, the Kurtinals won't have the element of surprise going for them this time. Now, EVERYONE has awakened to the fact that Airheadzona is for real, and Pittsburgh won't be coming into the game with false impressions based on the memory of a Thanksgiving night blowout.

I believe that the Kurtinals are in for an even greater war than the one they just won, but I think they will prevail. (Hokey-Smoke! I AM talking about the Cardinals, am I not? This is all still a bit hard for me to believe.)

"There's no need to fear: the Underdogs is here!"

~ STMcC

mousiemarc said...

I totally agree. They have to come out firing, and they can't afford a second half melt down like the second half in Pheonix. But Warner is on FIRE!!! So I think ;they can do it to. However, I no matter who was there I would want Pittsburgh to lose. Just beware!!!! The officials SCREWED the Seahawks when they faced off against The Steelers a few years back. That game was so biased even the casual fan could see right through it... Go Airheadzona...

P.S. I don't know why you moved to Pheonix either. Of course why do i live in the pacific northwest. Hey lets moved to Alaska and be neighbors. That way we could both wonder what the hell we were thinking.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>[Hey lets moved to Alaska and be neighbors. That way we could both wonder what the hell we were thinking.]<<

I think we wuzn't - that's the problem.

You would be a good neighbor, BR'ER, but I'm afraid Alaska is wee mite cold for my blood. Would you consider living next to me in Reno? That's where I'm tryin' tuh git to. (We could pass the time there by shooting men just to watch 'em die; it's all the rage in Reno.)

Had the house on the market for 8 months last year with nary a nibble. But we plan to list it again. "Reno Or Bust!"

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>