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All Eyes On The Arizona Cardinals Tonight

The Cardinals have been impressive in their last two prime-time games, and for the second week in a row the nation will be watching them in their match up with the San Francisco 49ers.  Do they have something to prove? Maybe. After a gut-wrenching loss to the 49ers week 1, many players are ready for redemption.  With the recent struggles in the NFC West tonight's game should be proof that the Cardinals are not just a product of the division.

A Cardinals win tonight would not only lock up a division title for the second year in a row, but it would also provide a sense of relief.  Losing two games to a division rival in one year is hard enough, and if the Cardinals want to establish themselves as one of the Super Bowl contenders this year, this is a game they should win.

This is a team that has seemingly played better in front of the nation beginning with their improbable playoff run to the Super Bowl last season, and their last two Sunday night games this year. They did struggle in week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts in a Sunday night game, but the Colts are also 13-0 and 12 other teams have fallen at the hands of Peyton Manning.  As you can see, the Cardinals have been more balanced in two of their wins on national TV, and also have a +3 turnover differential.

Prime-time Games Tot Yds Pass Rush Run Att TO Sacks  Opp TO
Loss vs Colts 323 299 24 12 3 0 1
Wins vs MIN/NYG(avg) 343 250.5 92.5 23.5 3 6 6

Winning three games when the nation is watching pads the recognition this team is striving for, but also sends a warning to the other top NFC - the Cardinals are for real.

Tonight however, is only the beginning.

Their next four games are certainly winnable with an opponents combined record of  17-34. With the Cowboys and Giants losing yesterday, securing the #3 seed is the goal and increasing the odds of a second home game in the post-season.  We all saw what happened down the stretch last year when the Cardinals secured their division and Ken Whisenhunt will surely have his team prepared this time around to finish strong and confident.

Game notes:  This is the 37th meeting between the two teams, with the 49ers holding a 20-16 advantage... Since they became division rivals, the 49ers hold an 8-7 advantage... This is the 3rd straight meeting against the 49ers on MNF (1-1)... With a win the Cardinals would secure the NFC West, have the first back to back post season appearances since 1975, and Ken Whisenhunt would get his 29th win (would be 4th all time!  Already!?!)... Larry Fitzgerald needs 56 yards to get to 7,000 career receiving yards (would be the youngest to that mark all-time), needs 62 yards to pass Pat Tilley for 4th all-time in Cards franchise history, and needs 31 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the third straight season (franchise record)... With 3 TDs Kurt Warner would reach 100 with the Cardinals, only the 2nd player to throw 100 TDs for two teams... Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin have accounted for eight 100-yard receiving games against the 49ers, who are without Nate Clements tonight and are ranked 27th in pass defense in the league...  Cards are favored by 3.5 points.