What would you say if I told you the Hawks will lose the division if they don't win this game? Looking at the two teams schedules after today, that's my assessment.
We all know if the Hawks win today, they clinch the division. We also know that if they lose, the Hawks could go 2-1, and still win the division unless the Cards went 3-0. That, unfortunately, sounds more encouraging than it should.
Take a look at their remaining schedules:
@ New Orleans
The Cards would have to avoid a letdown against the Saints (without Reggie Bush), but would be heavy favorites in all three games. The Hawks are essentially a pick'em with the Panthers and modest favorites over the Ravens, leaving their only significant advantage game against the Falcons on the road. All in all, I'd really like to just avoid the conversation all together and see a Hawks win today.
Historically, the Hawks have struggled in "clinch" situations. I also think this is a Cards team that will force us to earn the win.
Things I'll be watching for today:
- Green Bay score. Just because the players can't scoreboard watch doesn't mean I won't be!
- Aggression on offense
I've gotten in a little debate with folks on the TNT blog about the apparent return to our old offensive philosophy. I mentioned it in my notes about the game last week, and I'll say it again here. We need to retain the attacking style we adopted that started this streak. It's been fading over the last two weeks. Hugh Millen made a good point that it's easier to be pass first at home when you can make checks at the line and change protection easier. Hopefully, we'll see that fast break offense.
- Going with the hot hand in the running game
Shaun had about 4 good runs out of his 20. Mo had good runs on 4 out of his 5. That, alone, tells me the balance should have been better between their attempts.
- Knock Warner's block off
My buddy and I enjoy talking about the game a few years ago where Warner pulled his groin running away from a Hawks defender at Qwest. If we manage to get pressure on Warner, this game is definitely going to ours. I think that will be very difficult to do.
- Cover the freakin' Tight End (especially in the red zone)
The Hawks have a maddening habit of forgetting the TE position exists in the red zone. The Browns game was a great example. We are likely to only see one of the two great Cardinal WRs, so I would expect to see Pope more. So should the Hawks.
- Field position
I don't see this Cards offense beating us up and down the field. We can't have crappy punts and/or turnovers like the Browns did last week.
This is a game the Hawks should win. They are the better team, and they are playing at home.