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Heading into the Divisional playoff game

I wrote most all of this -- my regular pre-game, end-of-the-week blog entry -- on the plane today flying into Charlotte. It certainly passed the time. Anyway …

-- Larry Fitzgerald is the lone Cardinal to make the AP all-pro team. Here is a breakdown of the voting.

-- Here's my thought on playing Anquan Boldin, not that my thoughts matter that much. We're waiting to see if Q can play at all with his bad hamstring. This is a fine line. The number one hope is that Boldin can contribute. The Cards could use his help. But it isn't impossible for them to win without him (although the 3-1 mark the team has when he doesn't play breaks down as 3-0 at home and 0-1 on the road). You have to weigh whether it is risk he'll hurt his recovery. It's not like the Carolina game is it – yes, the Cards have to win to keep going, but if they do, they'll need Boldin even more next week if they get into the NFC Championship.

-- There seemed to be some hackles raised in Carolina early in the week about the idea the Cards would have rather played the Panthers and not the Giants this week. Anyone doing that is looking to stir the pot, because there would be a simple reason: Playing Carolina meant the Cardinals still had hope to host that NFC Championship game, because it meant the No. 6 Eagles were still alive.

-- While I don't think the first game around will mean a whole lot when the Panthers-Cards rematch goes down Saturday night, there are some things to remember, not the least of which was the Cards getting off to a good start. I think that will ultimately be the key Saturday. If the Cardinals can stay with the Panthers early, or even better take a lead, they are a much better team. Playing from behind at 10-0 or 14-0 in the first half I think would be a major danger sign.

-- That first Carolina game was Edgerrin James' last hurrah, if you recall. Not only did he struggle with 17 yards rushing on seven carries, his final carry of the day was a crucial fumble that turned into a touchdown for the Panthers. The way things played out after that, it didn't look promising, until this late-season revival. Edge said this week, "I will never be one of those guys who is just happy to be on the team. I want to be part of the ones making it happen."

-- Speaking of Edge and some of his classic quotes, here was one he had about enjoying this playoff run, especially choosing to come to Arizona as a free agent in 2006. As usual, he was laughing as he said it, in that ironic-chuckle way he has about him: "It makes you feel good. I take pride in making good decisions. At first, I was like, 'Damn, I might've (expletive) up. But now it's like, 'Hey, it's not that bad. My decision wasn't bad.' "

-- It's popular for people to ask me how the team looks/how it's doing heading into this game. I never know what to say. As close as I get to everything, I don't get close enough to be able to tell for certain. I'm not sure anyone knows how this team will respond until the ball is actually kicked off Saturday night.

-- Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about how close this team is to a Super Bowl appearance and if that had hit home. The man who just was part of a Super Bowl winner after the 2005 season seemed to be comfortable of the Cardinals' mindset.

"Our team is aware of what an opportunity this is for us," Whisenhunt said. "But I don't think we have been focused on that. That is the first point I made earlier this week: Next week doesn't matter unless we play the way we are supposed to play this week. I like the fact we are in a cocoon focused on this week. Hopefully that will make us play better."

That's all for now. Time to relax a little bit for the rest of the flight. Kate Brandt is sitting next to me importing new video to post to the site when we land, so those will be available too. Here's hoping this isn't the last blog I write flying to a football game this season.

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