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Monday, December 22, 2008

Are the Arizona Cardinals the worst playoff team in NFL history?

I mean honestly, I know the Cardinals clinched the NFC West two weeks ago but could a team put up less of a fight than Arizona showed yesterday in the snow/sleet at Gillette Stadium.

The Pats (10-5) embarrassed the Cardinals (8-7), 47-7, and kept their playoff hopes alive going into the final week of the regular season.

For a team that can't win on the road, especially on the East Coast and in bad weather, it was comical when Arizona came out and tried to run the ball (even though they have statistically the worst rushing attack in the NFL).

After the first three-and-out and a 28-yard punt return by Wes Welker, the Patriots moved the ball downfield until LaMont Jordan (20 carries, 78 yards) scored from a yard out. Another Arizona three-and-out and another Jordan TD (3 yards) gave New England a 14-0 lead barely 11 minutes into the game.

If there was any question how this would end up, New England added 17 more points in the second quarter. Kevin Faulk caught a 15-yard TD from Matt Cassel (20 for 36, 345 yards, 3 touchdowns), pro-bowler Welker (7 catches, 68 yards) snagged a 11-yard TD pass and fellow pro-bowler Stephen Gostkowski hit a 38-yard kick in a swirling wind with two seconds left in the first half.

With nothing to play for, the Cardinals never really tried to play in the unfavorable elements. Anquan Boldin sat out the game and Kurt Warner might as well have done the same. Everybody's favorite Jesus freak (this side of Jon Kitna) was 6-of-18 for 30 yards before he got the hook in the third quarter.

New England is now 10-0 at Foxboro in the snow and 9-0 under Belichick with those conditions.

In the first play of the second half, Randy Moss took a bubble screen pass, made one move and was gone 76 yards for a score. Gostkowski hit three more field goals (35, 24, 30) which helped him break the single-season Patriots record for kicks.

Arizona finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when Matt Leinart (remember him? 6-for-14, 138 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) connected with Larry Fitzgerald (3 catches, 101 yards) for a 78 yard bomb.

Sammy Morris led the Pats with 88 yards rushing on 17 carries and Jabar Gaffney had a team-leading 90 yards on five catches.

The Ravens didn't do New England any favors by winning in Dallas Saturday night and the same goes for the Dolphins, who survived against Kansas City. Still, Brett Favre gave us a beautifully-wrapped gift when the Jets fell 13-3 in Seattle yesterday.

For New England to make the playoffs, they have to win in Buffalo on Sunday and either A) the Jets have to beat the Dolphins (which they did in the first game of the season) or B) the Jaguars have to beat the Ravens.

I feel very confident that the Pats can take care of the Bills, even though they knocked off the Broncos yesterday. The Jets game is a toss-up (the Jets are also still in the mix for a playoff spot) and Jacksonville is pretty unlikely to do anything other than lay down in Baltimore.

The good omen is that since the NFL expanded to six playoff teams in each conference (in 1990), no 11-5 team has ever missed the playoffs.

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