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Trying To Sort The NFC West

Cards host Seahawks to begin crucial stretch against division

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Running back Tim Hightower breaks loose against the Seahawks when the Cardinals visited Seattle earlier this season.




Derek Anderson likes his golf, so he had no problem using a golf analogy to describe the NFC West.

"You can shoot 75 and still win," the Cardinals quarterback said.

Sunday, in golf parlance, is a bit of a moving day for the division. The Seahawks visit the Cardinals. The Rams are in San Francisco. The visiting teams are the ones atop the standings but it's the home teams that are the favorites this weekend, pointing to the balance – if not stellar play – among the four.

"Somebody is going to be the champion," Anderson said. "It doesn't matter what happens. Somebody is going to go to the playoffs out of this division. It doesn't matter how many games you've won or lost."

The Cardinals (3-5) are trying to snap a three-game losing streak with the second half of the season carrying probably the most favorable schedule within the West. The Cards haven't lost four in a row since Dennis Green's last season of 2006, and there are plenty of reasons to think the Cardinals will sidestep it again by beating the Seahawks (4-4).

Seattle is coming off two blowout losses to Oakland (33-3) and the Giants (41-7). They have brought quarterback Matt Hasselbeck back to health after he suffered a concussion, but injury woes continue to plague coach Pete Carroll in his first season.

"A bit of frustration creeps in," Seahawks receiver Mike Williams said. "But we circle the wagons."

Carroll's rebuilding project has featured 249 transactions since he arrived. That the Seahawks would have some bumpy times was to be expected – for most.

"I don't know that," Carroll said. "This isn't what I am expecting. (But) you have to deal with it. We have to fix some things. We have to get some guys back to health. We have to get back to doing things we know how to do."

The Cardinals had bigger plans this season, and even though they hadn't played well, they went into their bye at 3-2 and feeling good given the state of the division.

Then they dropped two straight three-point losses. No one will call Sunday's game a must-win against the Seahawks, but given the swing it could cause – including potentially being swept by their rival – the Cards have to find a way to win.

"We have seen signs of playing better football over the last two games," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We're not happy because they were two games we felt we could have won and (if we had won) that's a whole different perspective over where we are. But I think we have to be realistic and understand what is in front of us.

"We are starting to fit together a little bit better."

The Cards will face all three of their NFC West brethren over the next four games. There is a trip to Kansas City after the Seattle game, but then San Francisco visits for "Monday Night Football" and then the Rams come to University of Phoenix Stadium.

This is where the division can be won.

"Obviously our mentality is taking it one game at a time," Anderson said. "One week at a time, progress and continue to get better and figure out where it ends up in the end," Anderson said.

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