their final road trip of the regular season.
The Cards' issues traveling east have been well-documented, but their final jaunt to play the Patriots in New England includes with it a new factor: Probable bad weather. The Cardinals faced some rain in New York earlier this season and colder night temperatures in Philadelphia, but nothing like the mix of freezing rain and snow expected at Gillette Stadium.
"We have talked about it and we are aware what the conditions may be, but it's not like there is some place we can go to practice to prepare for it," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That's part of growing up as a team."
Weather already impacted the Cardinals on the flight out. The huge storm that whacked the East coast on Friday delayed the team's departure for a couple of hours.
That won't matter as much as what it could mean on the field, especially with the Cardinals still leaning heavily on the passing game.
"Everybody around the league would probably play in nice weather as opposed to freezing cold weather or rain or snow," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "You hope it's going to be warm but if it's not, you get ready to play in it.
"I don't think cold as much as other factors, maybe wind or rain (affects the game). But the thing is, you have to get your mind ready to play in the cold. You step off the plane and it's a shock. That is part of the battle. There is no question that is a mental battle."
The Cards must overcome other hurdles. The Patriots are still fighting for a playoff spot – even if New England wins out, it needs help to make the postseason. Key players like wide receiver Anquan Boldin (shoulder) and running back J.J. Arrington (knee) could miss the game.
The Cardinals' play has also been uneven of late at best, with disappointing performances against both the Eagles – the team's last road trip – and the Vikings.
With a final trip East before a playoff road trip that direction if the Cardinals are able to win their postseason opener, "it's important for us to play well" against the Patriots, Whisenhunt said.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick downplayed the weather factor, saying the result will come down to how the teams play and "not to how the wind is blowing." Yet Belichick did move his team's practices outside this week instead of keeping them inside New England's indoor practice facility and his players all acknowledged it will help for Sunday's game.
The Cardinals haven't played a game with significant snow since before the team even moved to Arizona in 1988.
"I could care less about the weather," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "I was born and bred in Minnesota, so I have had my fair share of cold-weather days. It's just football.
"I will play just like it was 100 degrees, go and execute and do the things my team needs me to do to win. That's the approach."
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 12/20/08.