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Watching Games Cardinals' Weekend Plan

Posted Jan 9, 2016

Sunday NFC Wild Card games will determine who team plays in first playoff matchup

Larry Fitzgerald and his Cardinals' teammates will be watching NFC Wild Card games to see who they play.

Larry Fitzgerald will watch the NFC playoff games Sunday, hoping to learn whatever he can from the three potential teams his Cardinals will play in the Divisional Playoff Round in a week.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver will do it with the sound turned down, however.

“I can’t stand the announcers talking about the game,” Fitzgerald said. “As a player, they have no idea what’s going on down on the field. They are giving you the best they can do, but when you play, you watch the game completely different. ‘They’re supposed to do this.’ How do you know they are supposed to do this?

“I turn that off and just watch it through my eyes.”

The Cardinals, whether they are players or coaches, all approach Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game just a little differently, with the ability to relax one final time this weekend before the intensity hits hard next week. The Minnesota Vikings, and their outdoor stadium sitting in five-degree temperatures, will host the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s first game. If the Vikings win, they will come to University of Phoenix Stadium the following Saturday.

If the Seahawks win, then it will be the winner of the afternoon game between the Green Bay Packers and their hosts in Washington that will travel to Arizona.

There has already been plenty of film work on all three games. How much will be gleaned Sunday has to do with who is doing the gleaning.

“To me, you can’t see (expletive) on television,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Not the way I like to watch it, you know? You don’t get to run it back and get the angles I like to watch it from. We’ll just relax and enjoy ourselves and wait to see who we get to play.”

Quarterback Carson Palmer, who has said often he’s a football fan anyway, said he’ll watch every snap of every game, including the AFC matchups. He’ll likely take notes about the teams the Cards will potentially play.

“The fact that we’re trying to figure out who we’re playing on Saturday, it makes it that much more fun, that much more interesting,” Palmer said.

The Cardinals prepped in their bye week with practices dedicated to each of the possible opponents – the Packers Wednesday, the Vikings Thursday and the Redskins Friday. Arians said Friday the game plans are “95 percent done” for each team, one of the reasons he will be able to attend Monday night’s college football national championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Players are off until Tuesday, when the Cardinals return to the practice field. Palmer said this week was framed perfectly by Arians – efficient on-field work that was capped by some but not a lot of classroom time. Players were able to rest mentally as well as physically, which, given that the Cards didn’t know their opponent, made sense.

“It’s a unique situation just because we don’t know who we play,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “Each day we are preparing for a different team. Don’t know what it’d be if B.A. knew who we’d play. But it’s a bye week so you can dial back a little bit, try and regather yourself, refresh yourself, because next week is one-and-done season.”

It’ll start with some football from the couch. Fitzgerald said he’ll pay attention to things like the hand-signals from the opposing secondary, small advantages that could help.

“I’m trying to watch for little things I can pick up that might be the difference of me beating a guy for a first down late in the game,” Fitzgerald said. “You never know.” 

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