NFC West: Keith Kidd
|Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE and Rich Kane-US PRESSWIRE|
|Will the Giants running game be able to keep Kurt Warner and Arizona's explosive receivers off the field?|
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Arizona Cardinals keep taking steps.
They finished 8-8 last season, their best record since 1998.
They outlasted Dallas in Week 6 this season when the Cowboys were 4-1, an outcome that helped establish Arizona as tough to beat at home.
They gained confidence on the road during a 27-23 defeat at Carolina in Week 8. Arizona has outscored opponents by 37 points over its last 14 quarters away from University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Cardinals have exorcised demons in prime time and at Seattle's Qwest Field over the last two weeks.
The next step -- finding a way to beat the 9-1 New York Giants on Sunday in Glendale -- might qualify as a leap if the Cardinals can make it happen.
"I'm picking them over the Giants this week because they possess the ball and their defense is never on the field for sustained periods," said ESPN's Trent Dilfer, the last quarterback to beat the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. "They don't get to third down. You see defenses change and Kurt Warner and [offensive coordinator] Todd Haley have an answer. You see perfect defensive plays against them and it's a 12-yard gain."
That's all good, but the Cardinals haven't faced an opponent as complete as the Giants.
"I don't think the Giants are going to have much of a problem," said Tag Ribary, who joined Scouts Inc. this year after evaluating talent for the Carolina Panthers in recent seasons. "What they did to Baltimore doesn't get enough credit at all. The No. 1 run defense in the league and they put 200 up on them. It's unthinkable, almost."
Until recently, unthinkable meant the Cardinals having a shot at clinching a playoff spot in Week 12. A victory over the Giants could make it happen. At 7-3, Arizona stands third in the NFC with six games to play.
"If they can beat the Giants and then get the Eagles on Thursday night, they could be in the hunt to play at home through the playoffs," Keith Kidd of Scouts Inc. said. "I don't think that will happen, but they could be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. They can win a playoff game at home." (Read Kidd's take on the matchup between the Cardinals' defense and Giants' offense here.)
The Cardinals arguably haven't had a game as meaningful as their Giants matchup in a decade. Dilfer, Ribary and Kidd joined Hot Topic respondents in helping us break it down 10 ways, and then some.