The Arizona Cardinals face a stern test this Sunday, as they welcome the defending Super Bowl…
Warner Faces Yet Another Former Employer
Now, at age 37, Warner has resurrected his career, again, and is having an MVP-type season. He leads the league in passer rating (105.1) and completion percentage (70.9) and is second in touchdown passes (21) and passing yards (3,155).
Despite those gaudy numbers, the Cardinals haven't made a move to re-sign Warner and probably won't until after the season.
Warner and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, aren't sweating it.
"Kurt's and my approach has been, 'Let's enjoy the moment,'" Bartelstein said. "Kurt does not want to be a distraction in any way with his contract. That's not his personality."
There is no doubt, however, that Warner wants to continue playing beyond this year. He mentioned retirement early this season after receiver Anquan Boldin suffered a vicious hit against the Jets. But Boldin has returned and is playing at a high level.
Warner has said that he would like to play two more years. Bartelstein and the club negotiated last summer but couldn't agree on an extension. They agreed to amicably suspend talks to see how the season progressed.
For Warner and the Cards, it's progressed quite nicely. With an MVP type performance, Warner's price tag is going up. The Cardinals know that but they are hoping they can get a good deal, given that Warner is in a favorable situation both professionally and personally.
"He would love to do something to stay there long-term," Bartelstein said, "and when the Cardinals are ready to deal with it, he'll deal with it."
SERIES HISTORY: 122nd regular-season meeting. The Giants lead, 78-41-2. The club's last met in 2005 in the Meadowlands and the Giants won, 42-19. It was quarterback Kurt Warner's first game as a Cardinal, and he had spent the previous year with the Giants. He lost his job midway through that season to rookie Eli Manning. The Giants are making their first regular-season trip to Arizona since 2004, but they are very familiar with University of Phoenix Stadium. That's where they beat the Patriots last February in Super Bowl XLII.
--The Cardinals have won seven straight at home, their longest home winning streak since 1925 when the Chicago Cardinals won nine consecutive games at home.
--At 7-3, the Cardinals are one of two teams that could clinch a playoff berth this week. The other is Tennessee. The Cardinals could clinch the NFC West title with a victory over the Giants coupled with a loss by the 49ers and a loss or tie by the Seahawks.
--QB Kurt Warner credits playing basketball in the off-season for helping with his conditioning and agility. Warner played basketball in high school and returned to the game a couple of off-seasons ago.
"That's done a lot for me," he said. "Even though I'm not known as a real fleet-of-foot guy, I didn't want to lose what I had."
--Coach Ken Whisenhunt likely earned himself some points in the locker room for his vehement defense of Adrian Wilson this week. There was speculation the Cardinals safety might have been suspended for a hit on Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck last week.
"Adrian did exactly what the league asked him to do," Whisenhunt said. "He didn't lead with his head. He tried to cradle the quarterback coming down. He didn't fall on him. So I don't see any way ... where there should be any ramifications for that."
There weren't. Wilson wasn't fined.
--In his past three games, Wilson has two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. Wilson has 18 sacks and 18 interceptions in his career. He could become the ninth player in the NFL to have 20 interceptions and 20 sacks.
--K Neil Rackers missed four of 16 field attempts from 50 yards and beyond in 2006 and 2007. He has attempted just one kick of more than 50 this season, making a 54-yarder last week in Seattle.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 -- That's the number of consecutive field goals made by kicker Neil Rackers, who had four last week.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know that people have said, 'Well, the division's down.' You can say all you want. We've played some pretty good football against some good teams." -- Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted the first two passes of his career last week and solidified his starting position. Eric Green, the former starter, is hobbling with a knee injury but he would have been replaced anyway.
--WR Anquan Boldin is being used more and more from the backfield. Boldin has taken just a handful of direct snaps in what the Cardinals call their "Pahokee" formation, named after Boldin's hometown in Florida. More often, Boldin takes a handoff or catches a pass from Kurt Warner out of the formation.
--RB Tim Hightower had gained 57 yards on 24 carries in the past two games. He's finding little room to run, especially in the second half. Hightower, a rookie, gained 109 yards rushing in his starting debut three games ago in St. Louis.
--ILB Karlos Dansby has kicked his play up a notch. He intercepted passes in each of the past two games and had 17 tackles.
GAME PLAN: The Cardinals' offense is based on the pass, and that's not going to change. But they might have to commit additional resources to pass blocking. The Giants rush the passer better than any other team. The Cardinals' pass blocking has been exceptional recently. Warner has been sacked just six times in the past six games.
Defensively, the Cardinals need to play disciplined run defense. There's a chance Giants running back Brandon Jacobs won't play, but they have other weapons to carry the ball. The Cardinals have had some breakdowns in their run defense but have played better lately.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Giants WR Plaxico Burress vs. Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- Normally the Cardinals might put Rod Hood on Burress for the entire game. But Hood is hampered by a rib injury and might not even play. Rodgers-Cromartie had his first two career interceptions last week, but he can be fooled by double moves.
Giants DT Justin Tuck vs. Cardinals offensive line: The Giants will move Tuck around and try to match him up against the weakest offensive lineman. That likely will mean a challenge for the Cardinals right side - guard Deuce Lutui and tackle Levi Brown.
Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin vs. Giants secondary: Boldin moves all around the formation, including the backfield. The idea is to get him isolated on defenders. And he's at his most dangerous after he makes the catch.
INJURY IMPACT: CB Rod Hood, the team's best cover corner, is dealing with sore ribs that forced him out of the Seattle game in the first half. Hood will be questionable all week.
--CB Eric Green is still hobbled by a sore knee, but he's expected to play.
--OLB Clark Haggans has a sprained left foot that forced him out of the Seattle game for a time. He returned to play in the second half.
--LT Mike Gandy is playing on a sore ankle and is taking some time off this week to rest it. He is expected to play on Sunday.
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