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Saturday Sim--Friday Edition

 Here we are, anoth113382_medium_mediumer round of the playoffs gone, and one step closer to a 2nd straight Super Bowl appearance.  Tomorrow's game is looking to be another great one, as the Cardinals matchup with the NFC's top seeded team in New Orleans.  I had some extra time on my hands, so I fired up the old PS3, put in Madden 2010, and put the settings at All-Madden, 8 minute quarters with a 15 second runoff, and away we went to see what a video game thinks will happen tomorrow.

1st Q:

Saints win the toss and elect to receive.  They open the ball with 2 straight PT runs that are both stuffed.  On 3rd and long, Brees hits D Thomas for the 1st.  2 more PT stops lead to a 2nd 3rd and long, and again, Brees completes for the 1st down.  On the next play, Brees is hit as he throws, and Dockett intercepts the ball.

The Cardinals open up with 2 straight Hightower runs into the line, before Warner completes to Fitz, but falls short of the 1st, forcing a punt. 

The Saints are driving with a balance of PT runs and Brees passes, and move the ball across midfield.  PT is having a hard time finding a lot of room to run, and as the quarter comes to a close, the Saints are facing 3rd and 10 at the Cardinals 36.

2nd Q:

Brees hits Colston, who breaks a tackle and runs all the way to the 4 for 1st and goal, but McFadden steps in front of a Brees pass for the INT and the Cardinals take over at their own 8. 

The drive looks like it will stall, but on 3rd down Warner hits LSH who gets the 1st down.  Warner finds Doucet and Fitz for 2 straight completions, but needs a Hightower run for the 1st to keep the drive moving.  Warner to Fitz and then Doucet get the Cardinals to the 20, and 2 checkdowns to Beanie move the ball inside the 10 yard line.  On 1st and goal, Warner hits Beanie again, but he comes up short of the end zone.  Hightower is stuffed , forcing 3rd down, but the pass falls incomplete and the Cards have to settle for a Rackers FG.  3-0 Cardinals, 1:34 to go in the 1st half.

The Saints are in the hurry up, and move into FG range on several passes from Brees to Henderson, Moore, and Bush.  After a 25 yarder to Meachem giving the Saints 1st and goal with 40 seconds left, Brees finds Meachem for the TD and the lead, 7-3.

Cards are content running out the half behind 2 Hightower runs.  End of the half, Saints up 7-3.

3rd Q:

After a run and screen pass, Warner hits Breaston over the middle, where he breaks a tackle and outruns the Saints for a 73 yard TD.  Cards 10-7.

Brees comes out throwing, and after 2 short completions, Colston gets free deep for a long 77 yard TD to answer back.  14-10 Saints.

Warner goes right back to work, hitting Breaston and Becht for first downs.  Hightower is stopped for a loss, and an incompletion give the Cardinals 3rd and 11 at midfield, where Warner is sacked by Smith to force the Graham punt. 

PT is stopped for a loss on 1st and 2nd down, giving Brees and company 3rd and 12.  The pass is incomplete, and the Saints punt it back to the Cards.

Warner finds Fitz to beat the blitz and move across midfield, and finds Fitz again to move into FG range at the 26 yard line.  The Saints force 3rd down, but Warner is intercepted at the goal line to end the scoring drive and end the 3rd quarter.

4th Q:

A near interception by McFadden opens the quarter, and the Cards force a 3 and out to get the ball back.  They can't capitalize however, as they go 3 and out as well and punt back to the Saints. 

Brees is working with Colston to move the ball down the field, hitting him 3 times on the drive into Cardinals territory.  A swing pass to Bush moves the ball inside the 10, where Brees hits Colston for the TD.  21-10 Saints.

The Saints D looks like it will force another 3 and out, but Warner hits Urban on 3rd down, and he breaks a couple of tackles and runs all the way to the Saints 15 yard line.  An incompletion and a short pass to Doucet bring up the 2 minute warning and 3rd down, but Vilma intercepts the Warner pass over the middle, and the Saints take the ball back looking to run out the clock.

3 straight PT runs gain the first down, and the Saints are able to run out the clock, preserving the win, 21-10.

Quick thoughts:

I can guarantee with absolute certainty, the game won't play out like this.  There is absolutely no way that one of these teams doesn't score at least 30, and more than likely, both will.  Like last week's sim, this was mostly a defensive battle.  Other than a couple of long passes, neither team moved the ball all that well, and with these 2 teams, I think we can all agree that it's NOT going to be a defensive battle.  I am more inclined to think that this will be a shootout, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

Best of luck to both teams tomorrow, hope it's a great game, and of course GO CARDS!!!!