Cardinals are still the team to beat in the NFC West

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Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw is a two-time Super Bowl MVP who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl championships during his pro career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989 and joined "FOX NFL Sunday" in 1994.

Well, we all know that my buddy Jimmy Johnson said "put a fork in them" about my Arizona Cardinals in the pregame show. I think Michael Strahan kind of seconded Jimmy's opinion. Pretty funny stuff based on them whipping the Jaguars. OK, we pulled the fork out of the Cardinals, but I could see why Jimmy said what he said. Last Sunday, the Cardinals weren't focused. They had just lowered the banner in their stadium. They had spent all offseason reading all their hype, people telling them how great they were. I'm sure they were still thinking that they should have won that Super Bowl against the Steelers. I'm positive they felt they easily could have won. Then, the 49ers beat them and all the wind was taken out of their sails. I got to bet that Coach Ken Whisenhunt cracked the whip on them all last week. Whisenhunt is a tough guy. I bet he got on them pretty good. Just watching the Cardinals last week they looked like they were going through the motions. Kurt Warner looked sluggish. He didn't look sharp. Like Jimmy said, Warner looked almost as old as Jimmy. But I wasn't surprised they were able to turn it around and do a total 180. Things like this happen when you're talented. The Cardinals have a lot of talented players. But what really impressed me is that they are not historically a good road team and they did this in Jacksonville, against a team that gave the Colts fits on opening Sunday. That's why nobody picked them to win today because they were in Jacksonville. Now, that was an impressive victory. Even though San Francisco is 2-0, the Cardinals are still the team to beat in the NFC West.

I'm a believer

Maybe the Saints are for real this season. Two years ago, they were roaring hot and the Eagles came into New Orleans and smashed them. It's one thing to beat Detroit with a rookie head coach in Jim Schwartz and a rookie quarterback, but it's another thing to go and beat a veteran football team in their house. I know the Eagles were minus Donovan McNabb, but that is still a talented football team. That was huge for them. You get a lot more confidence beating a good team on the road than at home. This should mean a lot to the Saints; definitely something for them to build on. Yes, I am impressed with how Drew Brees is playing, but I'm even more impressed with Coach Sean Payton because he's calling a very good offensive game. The Saints are running a five-set offense, and when you have a quick-minded quarterback like Brees, there is always going to be someone wide open. It's always the quarterback's job to find that open guy. That's where the great ones like Peyton Manning and Joe Montana excelled. The thing that made Joe and makes Peyton so good how is that they can recognize their formations while being able to read the defenses. Instead of going 1-2-3 when dropping back, they would know immediately if 4 was open. Brees is a smart football quarterback like those guys. Smart quarterbacks don't really have to read, because as you are dropping back, this guy or that guy is going to be wide open. A smart quarterback can see this and predict that while over center. So many times the blitz is the answer, because the coverage is the weakness. Great offensive coordinators like Payton know your defensive tendencies and know what you like to do against certain offensive formations. That's how they set their attacks and they also know if they dictate to you, they can get what they want on certain routes. I'm sure these last two games have been kind of fun for Payton and Brees. When I played, that's what I loved — when I knew exactly what the defense was trying to do. Right now, the Saints know exactly what teams are trying to do them, but forever beating them to the punch.

Flying Jets

Everybody saw how the Jets won, beating the Patriots. There is nothing more disturbing and unsettling than blitzes. It's one thing for Tom Brady to recognize what is coming. It's another thing for his running back, receivers and offensive linemen to, as well. Blitzes are the unknown in football. If everybody is on the same page and they all recognize it at the same time, it's beautiful. But if one blitzer comes open, he hits him. There are times when blitzes are timed to free up one guy on offense. But you blitz control off it. There is nothing more disturbing than what the Jets did in the second half. They blitzed, blitzed and either hit Brady or forced him out of what he really wanted to do. I tell you, right now, the Jets are lot more exciting than the Giants ever thought of being. I like the Rex Ryan trash talking and how Mark Sanchez has been playing.

Packing it in

Green Bay losing to the Bengals in Lambeau Field was a shocker to me. It looks like they are going to lay a golden egg and get behind the Vikings right off the bat. Yes, the Vikings are playing well, but who have they beaten? I was thinking that the Packers were pretty good. But losing to the Bengals at home doesn't make sense to me. And don't forget, they barely beat Chicago the week before. They are not running the ball like they used to. They are not explosive and they looked pretty ugly to me. They could be 0-2 very easily. Who knows what is wrong with them? I don't know about them. Maybe we over-estimated them. And that's because we really didn't like Chicago or Detroit, and we all knew that Minnesota is a running team even with Brett Favre there. Yes, Favre played well against the Lions, but it was dink and dunk. That may be the right way to use him right now. He still got smacked around pretty good. It looked like he hurt his hand there at the end. And the Vikings still haven't played a pressure defense yet. It's looking more and more like when he goes to Green Bay, that will be the showdown game in this division. Gee, that is going to be something. There's going to be a lot of emotion there. I don't think Brett knows yet what that is going to be like. He hasn't been booed — that I know of. It will be interesting to see whether or not he can really deal with that.
Tagged: Peyton Manning, Packers, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Cardinals, Colts, Vikings, Patriots, Donovan McNabb, Saints, Giants, Mark Sanchez, Jets, Bengals, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Eagles, 49ers

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