2010 NFC Divisional Playoffs Point Spread: Arizona Cardinals (57) at New Orleans Saints (-7)
The winner of Saturday’s afternoon matchup will get to make a rare trip to the NFC Championship game. The Cardinals made their first trip to the game last year while the Saints only NFC title game appearance was three years ago. The two franchises will be meeting in the postseason for the first time.
The defending NFC champions survived the highest scoring postseason game in NFL postseason last weekend against Green Bay. Quarterback Kurt Warner was nearly perfect in the 51-45 overtime victory. He had more TD passes (5) than incompletions (4) against the Packers. All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (97 receptions) will be a key for the Cardinals again on Saturday.
Arizona is hoping that wideout Anquan Boldin (84 receptions) will be back for this week’s contest after being sidelined by an injury against the Packers. The club’s improved rushing attack played a role in the victory over Green Bay. Arizona rushed for 156 yards in the win. Rookie Beanie Wells (793 yards in regular season) had 91 yards against the Packers.
While Arizona’s defense struggled to stop Green Bay last week, the unit came up with the game-winning score in overtime. Karlos Dansby returned a fumble 17 yards for the winning touchdown in overtime. The defense was a respectable 14th in the league in scoring defense during the regular season. Pro Bowl defensive backs Adrian Wilson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will look to rebound from a tough effort against Green Bay. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt is now 4-1 in the playoffs over the last two years. His regular season record is 27-21 with the Cardinals.
The top seed in the NFC will be looking to get back in form after dropping its final three games of the regular season. The league’s top total offense will use a balanced attack against Arizona. Quarterback Drew Brees led the NFL in quarterback rating and TD passes (34) during the regular season. Marques Colston (team-high 70 receptions) and Robert Meachem each had 9 touchdown catches for a New Orleans club with plenty of receiving depth.
The Saints improved ground game finished 2nd in the NFC in rushing in 2009. Pierre Thomas (team-high 793 yards) has averaged over five yards per carry to pace the attack. While the defense has improved under first-year defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the unit (20th in NFL in scoring defense) is pretty average. All-Pro safety Darren Sharper is a big play specialist for the Saints. He tied for the league lead in interceptions with 9 during the regular season. Linebacker Jonathan Wilma is also heading to the Pro Bowl for the Saints.
Defensive lineman Will Smith is a threat up front after ranking 5th in the NFL in sacks with 13. New Orleans head coach Sean Payton is wrapping up his fourth season with the club. He has posted a record of 38-26.