The Cardinals haven't played at home since the preseason finale Sept. 2.
The Cardinals have done a good job in the recent past playing competitively on the road, last week's derailment in Atlanta notwithstanding.
But they are finally coming home Sunday.
"It's always a good feeling to not have to get on a plane and not go through all those gymnastics," safety Matt Ware said. "To be at the house and have the Red Sea behind us."
A game at University of Phoenix Stadium may be exactly what the Cardinals need right now. The team is 1-1 and, thanks to the makeup of the NFC West, that's still tops in the division. After the disaster in Atlanta last week, the Cards not only need to beat the visiting Raiders Sunday to notch a win but to also rebalance mentally.
"It looked bad," safety Adrian Wilson said. "No way I can sugarcoat it."
Just being at home doesn't promise redemption. The Cards split their eight regular-season home games last year, after a dominant 2008. The Raiders (1-1) – whose lone win, like the Cards, came against the struggling Rams – aren't exactly a powerhouse.
The Cards aren't in a position to worry about the opponent right now anyway. They have enough to deal with on their own, with their defensive issues and inconsistent offense. That's why coach Ken Whisenhunt is looking at this weekend on a very basic level.
"We need to play a game where we are efficient on third down, where we hold the opponent down and not let them have the number of plays or success they have had," Whisenhunt said. "We need a game like that because it helps get your confidence going."
The Cardinals are still counting on quarterback Derek Anderson to improve his play. The Raiders decided, after just six quarters this season, that newcomer Jason Campbell wasn't the answer. So coach Tom Cable went back to Bruce Gradkowski, who had some success last season, especially as a leader.
For a franchise that has had double-digit losses for seven straight seasons, any spark helps, although Cable insists the Raiders are in a much better place than previous years.
"I don't think you get to a point where we are at, having a chance to compete and have success, without having a fresher, different attitude," Cable said.
Running back Beanie Wells should return for the Cards, which will help in two areas – not only with getting Wells in the backfield but allowing LaRod Stephens-Howling to play coverage on special teams, one of his strengths.
But this game is more about the Cards who have been in there. The ones who suffered through last week's ignominy ready to make amends in front of a friendly crowd.
"You never just forget (last game), because you have to know what you have to correct, but it's over with," Ware said. "You can never go back and play any of that game again, you know what I'm saying? You have to move on, and you have to move on fast."
Saturday, Sep 25, 2010 10:24 AM