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Without The Elements

Cardinals may not have another game outdoors unless they reach Super Bowl

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WIde receiver Anquan Boldin finishes off a play in the Cards' previous indoor road game this season in St. Louis.
 
 
DETROIT – About this time last season, the Cardinals flew east and played a game where temperatures were below freezing and there was snow on the ground.

They'll do the same this weekend.

The differences are glaring, however. For one, the Lions aren't nearly as good as the Patriots, the home teams in each of the venues. More importantly, by the time kickoff arrives, the weather will be a non-factor, given the domed comforts of Ford Field.

The Cardinals, still chasing the NFC West title, have three games left in the regular season plus probable playoffs. It is probable they will play every game indoors until and if they reach the Super Bowl in Miami.

"This was one of the rare years we really didn't have to play a bad-weather game," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That was good."

The Cardinals (8-5) have been lucky in that regard. Their opportunities for bad weather were few. It rained hard in Jacksonville during pregame, although the precipitation mostly let up by kickoff. Their trip to Chicago came about a week after a cold snap, but by the time the Cards played, it was perfect weather.

Tennessee can be colder, especially later in the season, but even with a late kickoff that Sunday, the temperature was mild.

All of this is one factor in the Cards' impressive 5-2 road record.

The rest of the Cards' schedule sets up like this: Indoors in Detroit, and then three home games in a row, two to end the regular season (against the Rams and Packers) and then a first-round home game in the playoffs.

If the Cards were to win that, the second round will likely either be in New Orleans or Minnesota – a pair of dome teams. If seedings hold and the Cards manage to reach the NFC Championship, they'd go to Minnesota or New Orleans the following week.

A team like Philadelphia is in the mix – after all, who would have imagined the Cards hosting the NFC title game a year ago – but there is a strong case to be made the Cards will be inside.

"You play that in your head a little bit, see how it can play out, the different scenarios," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "The weather is a huge part. We play better in warmer weather. We know that. I feel we can play in any weather, but we know, home games, playing in domes, we are used to it."

The Cards almost always keep their own roof closed for home games, even when the weather is better. It amplifies the noise level of the fans, which the Cards consider an advantage, and quarterback Kurt Warner – who has dominated in games played inside during his career – performs well in such environments.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald shrugged off the indoor possibility, even though bad weather would seem to affect the passing game most of all.

 "We've had some nasty games, like New England," Fitzgerald said. "But remember when we went to New York and it was raining cats and dogs before the game? We put up like 600 yards of offense."

It was actually 468 against the Jets, but Fitzgerald's point remains.

"If you're on, you're on," Fitzgerald added. "If you're off, you're off. If you're good, you're good. If you (stink), you (stink)."

EXTRA POINT

Whisenhunt said he considered leaving for Detroit on Friday but opted against it because the flight wasn't as long had it been to a place like New York or Tampa and there is only a two-hour time difference this time of year.

"This close to Christmas I thought the guys would like an extra night to get some Christmas shopping done," Whisenhunt said.

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