NFC Divisional Playoffs: Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Arizona Cardinals (11-6 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (13-3
SU, 8-8 ATS), 4:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 16, 2010, Louisiana
Superdome, New Orleans, La., TV: FOX

by Badger of

The Arizona Cardinals survived the record-breaking highest scoring
playoff game last weekend versus the Green Bay Packers and as their prize, they have to travel to The Big Easy to take on the NFLs top-
ranked and most explosive offense in the New Orleans Saints in NFC
Divisional Playoff action Saturday in the Superdome.

The Saints, who will be rested and ready to put their three-game
losing streak to close the season behind them, are likely licking
their chops at the thought of another shootout with the Cardinals. It
took over 500 yards of offense and 45 points, in overtime no less,
for the Cards to get past the Packers, so a short 6-day window before
another indoor track meet will definitely benefit the boys from New

But you cant count the Kurt Warner led Cardinals out of anything, as this week looks like a Warner vs Drew Brees NFC round two slinging match to see who flinches first.

Its interesting to note that the oddsmakers in Las Vegas were forced
to open this NFC playoff game with the Saints as just one touchdown 7-
point favorites, following the showing the Cards gave last week with
their been here done that before 45-point outburst. The Saints
havent been lower than double-digit favorites since the Dallas game
in week 15, so the three-game slide has scared away some of the
public support the Saints were drawing earlier in the season.

On paper, its not hard to imagine Warner and the Cardinals having to play another perfect game in a 100-point shootout versus Brees and
the high-flying Saints.

Offensively these two teams have a ton in common. Both have a bright,
young offensive head coach (Ken Whisenhunt and Sean Peyton) whos
experienced in game planning in the playoffs. Both teams have weapons
galore at the skill positions with just about all of them capable of
scoring on any given play. Both teams also rely heavily on veteran
quarterbacks who have the ability to change the play and protections
at the line of scrimmage, the name of the game on offense in the

That asset to switch plays will serve both Brees and Warner this
week, because clearly this game will hinge on which team plays better
defense and both coordinators Greg Williams and Billy Davis will
scheme for different ways to bring the blitz and get the QBs out of
their comfort zone.

The Saints defense didnt play very well down the stretch, but they did get corners Jabari Greer and Tracey Harper back on the field at
the same time. Safety Darren Sharper (knee) and linebacker Scott
Shanle (concussion) are expected back to health too (listed as
probable), so the Saints defense will be close to full strength with
the additional week off.

The Cardinals defense, a unit that was missing in action in the second half of the Packers game, will have to rebound in the
secondary in six days or else. Safety Antrel Rolle played, but was
clearly a full step slow in pass coverage, and corner Dominique
Rodgers-Cromartie also showed some lingering effects from injury.
Theyll both need to heal faster, or Brees will find them on Saturday.

Brees and Warner had a nice duel the last time these two team met on
the field, a 31-24 victory for the Saints at home in the Superdome in
December of 2007. Warner threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns,
but Brees had 315 yards and two scores in a game with 41 first downs,
700 yards of offense and five punts.

In fact, New Orleans owns the series versus the Cardinals, both
straight up (6-3 since 1991) and against the spread (6-2 ATS). The
Saints have covered in four of the last five against the Cards,
including two in a row at the Superdome.

But theres something to say about playing in the clutch, as the
Cards are now a perfect 7-0 ATS in Saturday playoff games and 5-0 ATS
in the last five playoff games overall.

Badgers Pick: For my money, theres something about the Cardinals
and their ability to dial it up in the playoffs. Brees and the Saints
will get their points, but Warner and the boys find some way to win
again. Take Arizona plus 7-points.