Calais Campbell (93) and the Cardinals have won six of seven headed into Sunday's game at Tennessee, where the Titans have won four straight.
NASHVILLE – Momentum is real.
Momentum helps a team like the Titans – the Cardinals' opponent Sunday – rally from an 0-6 start to the season to win four straight games. It makes Tennessee dangerous, and some wonder about the Cards' misfortune to face the Titans now rather than earlier in the season.
Lost in the storyline is how the Cards too are feeding off momentum.
The Cardinals (7-3) don't have a four-game winning streak but have won three straight and six of seven. They've won all five games away from home. They understand how difficult it will be to face the Titans because it is difficult to play the Cards right now.
"The confidence comes with winning because I don't care what you say or how you look at it, when you are losing, you can talk about all the confidence you want to but you start to second-guess yourself," running back Tim Hightower said. "Winning breeds confidence, even if you mess up."
The Cardinals will have their quarterback, Kurt Warner, after a concussion last week kept him out of the second half in St. Louis. The Titans will have their quarterback, Vince Young, who has seemingly resurrected his career by winning all four starts since getting back into the lineup.
The Titans won those four games since getting blown out in the snow at New England -- "It looked eerily familiar, to be honest with you," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said – to repeat the Cardinals' feat of late 2008.
Game No. 5 for the Cardinals was a loss (in the Super Bowl). The Cards are hoping to break the Titans' string.
"We're not going to talk trash and we hope they're not going to talk trash," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "At the same time it'll be one of those type games where I'm going to make sure I get in the cold tub because I know I'm going to be sore after this one."
Whisenhunt has reiterated often he never believed the Titans were a bad team simply because they had won 13 games a season ago. Tennessee apparently hung on to a similar belief.
"We are just buying into Tennessee Titans football and once we got our first win," Young said. "We've been riding that wave ever since."
The Titans are playing better defense. They have gotten healthier and the running combination of Young and Chris Johnson is an obvious reason they are giving opponents problems.
But, with Warner now healthy, the Cardinals have morphed into one dangerous team. Hightower noted the ability to make plays after adversity – coming back quickly in St. Louis, for instance, after Beanie Wells fumbled early in the game.
Warner's concussion was the big story after the game, but before he got hurt, he continued his dominant play. Warner has thrown 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions in the last three games, and that's paired with a running game that has churned out and average of more than 160 rushing yards in that span.
Few have considered their recent play, however, in light of what the Titans have accomplished.
"Everybody just thinks we're the little old Cardinals, hanging out in the birdhouse in the tree," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "That's fine. As long as we show up on Sundays and do what we do, I really don't care what anyone thinks."
With a three-game lead in the NFC West, the Cardinals won't lose everything they've gained even if they lose to Tennessee. But a difficult home game with Minnesota awaits next week, and the Cards don't want to lose all the momentum they have gained.
Besides, a win against the Titans just emphasizes the roll the Cards have really put together.
"We've been able to keep ourselves in these games and close them out at the end," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "That's what good teams are able to do. We are building. We are still getting to where we want to go but we are moving in the right direction."
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