NFL Playoffs Fan Battle: Cardinals vs. Saints Preview

To get you ready for the Cardinals-Saints’ Divisional Round tilt in the “Big Easy” this Saturday, here’s a preview of the game via a mock dialogue between an Arizona and a New Orleans fan.

Saint Fan: I bet Sean Payton couldn’t sleep after watching the Packers rip apart the Cardinals’ defense last Sunday! Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jermichael Finley lit you guys up and we have similar weapons in Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem. I can’t wait to see what that group will do against Arizona’s brutal secondary this Saturday!

Cardinal Fan: Last week was an anomaly – the Cards’ defense won’t play that bad two weeks in a row. Ken Whisenhunt and his staff have already dissected what went wrong and are working to correct the problem. Besides, tackling was the main issue last week, which is correctable.

Saint Fan: Payton just won coach of the year and is one of the brightest offensive minds in football. If Mike McCarthy figured out how to rack up 40-plus points on Arizona, then Payton might double that.

Cardinal Fan: This isn’t the regular season – it’s the playoffs.

Saint Fan: Wow, you’re just figuring this out now?

Cardinal Fan: Hear me out; Whisenhunt is 4-1 in the postseason as the Cardinals’ head coach. He has already been to the Super Bowl and thus knows what it takes to get there. There’s no doubt Payton is a great coach, but there’s a lot more at stake for him this weekend with the Saints being the No. 1 seed and expected to reach the Super Bowl after running through the competition for most of the season.

Saint Fan: Yeah, but let’s give defensive coordinator Gregg Williams his due. His aggressive style has changed how the Saints run their defense and he deserves just as much credit for our team’s success this year as Payton does.

Cardinal Fan: Oh, you mean the same Gregg Williams-led defense that can’t stop the run? Once we establish the ground game with Beanie Wells, Kurt Warner is going to pick your fading defense apart with his precision passing. Plus, once we get inside the red zone we’re nearly unstoppable. We’ve scored touchdowns on 70.4 percent of our trips inside our opponents’ 20-yard line, which is the best in the league.

Saint Fan: You obviously haven’t been doing your homework. The Saints rank second in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns just 39.3 percent of the time. Meanwhile, that Jekyll and Hyde Green Bay defense allowed touchdowns 60.9 percent of the time. Warner isn’t going to have it as easy as he did last week, especially considering we pressure with five or more rushers 49.4 percent of the time. Warner will cough the ball up, just like he always does.

Cardinal Fan: Warner is excellent at diagnosing a defense at the line of scrimmage and getting the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. And again, you seem to be blatantly ignoring the fact that the Saints can’t stop the run. They’re allowing over 120 rushing yards per game this year.

Saint Fan: One name: Sedrick Ellis. When he’s healthy, the Saints’ defense looks completely different. He’s taken the last two weeks off to rest his knee and is now reportedly 100%. You’re not going to be able to run the ball, you’re not going to be able to convert touchdowns in the red zone and you’re not going to match up with an offense that averages over 400 total yards and 30-plus points a game. Pressure or no pressure, the Saints are flat out a better team – it’s their time.

Cardinal Fan: They’re also a team that finished the season 0-3. After the Cowboys beat them in New Orleans, Drew Brees looked like a crushed man. Your team focused too much on a perfect season and is now stumbling into the playoffs. We have the momentum, we have the recent postseason experience and we have been solid on the road this season.

Saint Fan: Whatever, all I know is that you better hope the game doesn’t come down to a field goal with Shanky Rackers on your roster.

Cardinal Fan: Damn it…got me there.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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