Matt Leinart (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Kurt Warner tops the Cardinals "I'm thankful for" list. But after suffering concussion-like symptoms in last week's game against the St. Louis Rams, it's now or never to test Matt Leinart's ability to carry the Cardinals for four quarters and really take a look at his future in Arizona. AZRedReport.com dishes up plenty of reasons to join Team Leinart, at least for this week...
Former Rose Bowl nemeses Matt Leinart and Vince Young go head-to-head for the first time in their NFL careers. Both bring unique struggles to the field on Sunday...
While that story would write itself and make for a light holiday workload, there are plenty of other reasons to start Leinart against the Titans.
A massive breakdown aside, the Cardinals are going to the playoffs. The Cardinals feature a light schedule down the stretch. Out of six remaining games, including the Titans, only two teams boast a winning record (the Vikings and the Packers). And the Cardinals still have the opportunity to face off against divisional opponents, the 49ers and the Rams, which realistically are slam-dunks.
Bench Kurt Warner this week and have a rested veteran quarterback to face Brett Favre's 9-1 Vikings in Arizona.
After the Minnesota test, comes three ideal matchups: San Francisco, Detroit and St. Louis. The Cardinals round out the season at home against the Packers.
The remaining schedule isn't a tough one, but the Cardinals will obviously go with their million dollar man, Warner, to finish out the season and head into the knockout rounds.
There is no better time to give Leinart a full-game test than this Sunday. The opportunity to watch Leinart play out a full game will give the Cardinals the ability to fully asses Leinart for this offseason and figure out if he is trade bait, chump change or the future of this organization.
Backup quarterbacks in the NFL have a laundry list of concerns. Only they can understand what it's like to jump into someone else's game and lead someone else's team. While those are the woes of being a backup quarterback, the Cardinals have the luxury of giving Leinart a heads up. Leinart could be given the go-ahead to go into Sunday with the mindset that it's his team taking the field.
Sunday's game won't be easy. The once struggling Titans have bolstered their 4-6 record with four consecutive wins. They'll look for their fifth. The common theme of the Titans wins is no doubt the return of Young. What better test for Leinart?
The Titans defense is another story. The Titans give up 271-plus passing yards, which is second-worst in the NFL. Leinart also has another weapon in the Cardinals improving ground game.
And if Sunday's game against the Titans ends the same way that Leinart's Rose Bowl game against Young did, so be it. At least the Cardinals will know exactly what they are working with....
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