In its place though, we could very well see the birth of the next best rivalry in the NFL between the Seahawks and the Cardinals on Sunday night. A battle for the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs is at stake. What better movie to preview it with than the battle within the Griswold household come Christmas Vacation.
“Hey Griswold! Where do you think you're gonna put a tree that big? Bend over and I'll show you. You've got a lot of nerve talking to me like that Griswold. I wasn't talking to you.” Yep, ol’ Pete isn’t talking to Harbaugh anymore when the question of where to stick a tree arises. That dialogue is now reserved for Bruce Arians. Bruce famously stated that there was a new sheriff in town when the Cardinals handed the Seahawks their only loss at home in 2013. Well, guess what sheriff? The deputy has his chain saw and Jason mask, and is coming back to reclaim his post. Oh, and he’s bringing the Legion of Boom with him just in case you decide to resist.
“You surprised to see us, Clark? Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.” I’ll freely admit, I’m stunned to see the Cardinals in this position right now. With no real offensive threats coming into the season other than Fitzgerald, I didn’t think they’d be much better than 9-7. Then when their running game completely imploded and Carson Palmer went down, I thought sure they’d lose their last 6 in a row. Their ability to put the right amount of smoke against the right number of mirrors to win these last 2 games has been pretty impressive. But, as the Mariners teach us on a yearly basis, eventually you do have to score points to win.
“What's that sound? Do you hear it? It's a funny squeaky sound. You couldn't hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.” Oh, the Cardinal fans. You know this game has them upset because with it being a late game, they have to go at 3:00 now for the early bird special and they risk missing the re-runs of Matlock and Murder She Wrote since the game might go past 8:00. It was thoroughly entertaining this week to watch folks like Larry Fitzgerald plead with Cardinal fans not to sell their tickets, lest Seahawk fans snatch them up. Or with the local sports radio hosts imploring people to make sure they protect their voices all week so they can be loud on Sunday. It brought me back to about 2002 when the 12th Man was not nearly what it is today. I remember those exact pleadings going out over Seattle airways and newspapers in the days leading up to important games. Like those awkward teenage years, I think we’re all glad to have those days behind us.
“Talk about pissing your money away. I hope you kids see what a silly waste of resources this was. He worked really hard, Grandma. So do washing machines.” Oh, the poor Cardinals. No sooner do they sign Carson Palmer to a lucrative contract extension than he blows out his knee, leaving the franchise in the hands of Drew Stanton. Then Drew gets knocked out of last week’s game against Kansas City, leaving the old San Diego State Aztec Ryan Lindley to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Ryan gets his first look at the Legion of Boom on Sunday night. I’m having a flashback to a scene in The Waterboy where near the end the Mud Dogs are doing an onside kick and the kicker is looking for the weak link on the other team. Then when he finds him, “yeahhhh…there’s my bitch”. I gotta think the LOB might have a similar reaction when they step on the field for the first time on defense.
“I don't know if I oughta go sailin' down no hill with nothin' between the ground and my brains but a piece of government plastic.” I think Russell Wilson would concur Uncle Eddie. He’s not going to have much between him and the ground either, with the continued rash of injuries on his offensive line. This is going to be one of those games where you hope the history of injury to the o-line the last couple years is going to pay some dividends as most of the backups have had some significant playing time and should be well prepared.
“Burn some dust here. Eat my rubber. Dad, I think you mean burn rubber and eat my dust. Whatever, Russ. Whatever.” However you want to put it, Marshawn needs to do some burning and making people eat dust. With the depleted offensive line providing potentially shaky pass protection, Marshawn will be needed to not only chew up yards, but chew up the clock. Keep that defense out there longer, just like they did in Philadelphia, and it will pay dividends in the 4th quarter.
“Rocky bit my thumb. Him's nervous. Nervous or excited? Shittin' bricks. You shouldn't use that word. Sorry. Shittin' rocks”. Gastrointestinal issues aside, I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous for this game. Few thought they could beat Kansas City two weeks ago, and they were able to pull out a bit of a dubious win after a non-fumble somehow turned into a fumble that the Cards recovered. Everybody and their brother knew there was no way the Cardinals could beat the Rams in St. Louis last Thursday night. Yet, the Cardinals were able to grit out a 12-6 win. Here we are again with the Hawks instilled as 7.5 point favorites in Vegas and an almost unanimous choice to win according to ESPN’s “experts”. It’s enough to get those rocks forming in the small intestine.
“Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead? Naw, I'm doing just fine, Clark.” Ultimately it is time for the Hawks, like they did with the Niners, to drive the Cardinals out to the middle of nowhere and leave them for dead. Sure they may be back come playoff time, but at least you make them come to your house.
“Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.” Leave nobody out, that’s my policy.
Seahawks 16, Cardinals 3