The Cardinals are trying to keep a cushion in the NFC West over the 49ers with the Vikings visiting Sunday night.
The ramifications for the Cardinals' drive for an NFC West title will be determined beyond the gates of University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday.
The Cards, coming off a difficult loss in Tennessee, host surging Minnesota on "Sunday Night Football." But in the background is the 49ers' afternoon game in Seattle, an outcome that can alter the meaning of the Cards' result later that night.
Scoreboard watching has its roots in baseball, where games are played daily and the standings can change each night. The NFL, with games weekly, gives each result more time to breathe.
That doesn't mean they aren't of interest.
"If anyone tells you they don't look," Cardinals nose tackle Bryan Robinson said, "they're lying to you."
The Cards (7-4), however, remain business-like in their approach. There has been little – if any –talk about the 49ers (5-6) shaving a game off Arizona's lead last weekend. There has been no talk about the trip to San Francisco next week, or of the idea a combination of a Cards' loss and 49ers' win Sunday allows the winner of the "Monday Night Football" game in the Bay Area to take first place.
"It's strictly about us," wide receiver Steve Breaston said. "You win, you win. I don't see why it should be about anything else. You shouldn't be looking over your shoulder when you're in position to handle stuff yourself."
Said coach Ken Whisenhunt, "All we talk about during the week is the team we are playing, and that's the way it should be."
The division race can't compete with some of the other topics on hand, starting with dominant storyline of Kurt Warner's health. Warner, coming back from a concussion, is still listed as questionable to play against the Vikings.
There was optimism at the end of the practice week Warner will be able to return after missing just one game, but then again, there was similar optimism last week when the Cards went to Tennessee. Backup Matt Leinart got significantly more practice work going into the Minnesota game, and should be better ready to play if needed.
There was also some leftover disappointment after the way the team lost in Tennessee.
"To have a game kind of won and to have a team drive 99 yards, it hurts," safety Adrian Wilson said. "But you can't go back and re-live that game. We don't want to continue to hear about it."
They also don't want to hear about last year's disaster against the Vikings, in which Minnesota came to University of Phoenix Stadium and blew out the Cards, 35-14, behind the running of Adrian Peterson (165 yards) and four touchdown passes from Tarvaris Jackson.
The Cards must deal with Peterson still, but the Vikings now have veteran Brett Favre at quarterback, with Favre in the middle of what could become his finest season. Favre has 24 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
The Vikings (10-1) are chasing 11-0 New Orleans for the NFC's best record and will be in the spotlight of national TV as the favorite.
"We have been the underdog in every big game we have ever played in, so this is not uncharted territory for us," Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "That's OK."
The bevy of subplots makes it easy to see why the NFC West is only a footnote, at least for now.
"Dude, we're not thinking about the 49ers," Robinson said. "We've got a 10-1 team coming to town.
"We know if we beat Minnesota, we have a great chance of winning out. I'll just leave it at that."
Eyes On What's Important
Scoreboard-watching happens, but Cards thinking about themselves first
Dec 04, 2009 at 07:48 AM
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