Kurt and Brenda Warner (Getty)
Talk continues about Kurt Warner's retirement plans. But at this point, it's all speculation. While those talks won't end anytime soon, Warner and his team are focused on the prize at hand. Warner did address the topic though.
If it's the end of the regular season, it must be time to speculate about Kurt Warner's retirement plans.
The only problem is, Warner says he doesn't have a plan.
There were reports last week that Warner was planning to retire after the season, unless he changed his mind. Warner denied that story, and certainly didn't look like he should retire after Sunday's playoff performance in Arizona's 51-45 overtime playoff win against Green Bay.
Warner had more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four) and solidified his Hall of Fame credentials.
After the game, Warner said he will take time off after the season and decide his future. Cardinals officials expect him to come back for the final year of his contract, which will pay him $4 million. He also will collect half his signing bonus, $.7.5 million, in 2010.
With Warner, the Cardinals have a chance to not only beat New Orleans this weekend but to remain a contender next season. He's throwing the ball as well as he ever has, and coach Ken Whisenhunt has been smart enough to structure the offense to suit his skills.
What's new this season is the addition of a running game. Improved blocking from the tight ends and the addition of rookie running back Beanie Wells should give the Cardinals a solid running game for several years.
That takes the mental stress off Warner, who wore down during the 2008 season because he felt the team wouldn't win if he didn't play well.
It will be difficult for Warner to walk away from this offense.
He still has two Pro Bowl receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Even if Boldin is traded, other receivers have proven they can make an impact.
Steve Breaston has performed well when he's been in the starting lineup. Early Doucet has improved greatly over the last half of this season, and Jerheme Urban contributes when given the chance.
Against the Packers, Whisenhunt made tight end Ben Patrick a more prominent part of the offense. Patrick caught three passes for 42 yards, including a 22-yarder.
While the Cardinals will have trouble containing the Saints offense, led by quarterback Drew Brees, the Cardinals will cause some problems for the Saints. The Packers, who had the No. 2 ranked defense, couldn't stop the Cardinals' passing or running game.
The Saints secondary is suspect, and the Cardinals should be able to run the ball. It could be another shootout for Arizona.
LINEUP WATCH: Starting right defensive end Calais Campbell became a part-time player against the Packers after suffering a fractured thumb in the season finale. Campbell is wearing a cast while playing, and that limits his ability to take on blockers and shed them. Alan Branch started in his place and did a reasonably good job, especially against the run. Branch won't play much in passing situations, giving way to veteran Bertrand Berry, one of the team's best pass rushers. Branch has come a long way this season, however, and the former second round pick is no longer regarded as a bust.
TRENDING: Rookie safety Rashad Johnson, the team's third-round pick, has struggled in pass coverage and wasn't active against the Packers. Cornerback Ralph Brown moved to the dime safety position, with Michael Adams at the corner in the sub packages. Adams was burned several times and called for four penalties, but the lack of depth at cornerback gives the club few other options.
--K Neil Rackers missed only one field goal during the regular season, but he missed a 34-yarder that would have beaten the Packers in regulation. It was the first potential game-winning kick Rackers has tried since the 2007 season.
--WR Anquan Boldin missed the game with a sprained left ankle and knee. The Cardinals are hopeful he will be able to play in New Orleans.
--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had an interception but he needs to become a better tackler. He shies away from contact.
--RB Beanie Wells gained 91 yards against the Packers, including a 42-yard run. He gives the Cardinals a big-play threat they've been missing.
--WR Steve Breaston caught seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. He was starting in place of Anquan Boldin.