Vikings Leery of Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals aren't a great team by any stretch of the imagination. But they could have as much to do with who is in and who's out of the 2003 playoffs as just about anyone.

Even the most optimistic of Cardinals fans would say their team stinks. With one of the worst records in the NFL, the Cardinals are in line for a premium draft pick in next April's draft.

But don't expect the Vikings to take the Cardinals lightly. They know the damage that the Cards have done and how critical they've been to determining the NFL playoff picture.

Why do the Vikings hold the tie-breaker edge over the Packers right now? Conference record. Why? The Packers lost to the Cardinals in September.

San Francisco looked to salvage its season in October after beating Tampa Bay soundly. What happened? The 49ers' season came crashing down with a road loss to the Cardinals.

The Bengals have been one of the feel-good stories of 2003 but need a win and a Ravens loss to win their division this weekend. Why? They lost on the road to the Cardinals.

As Vikings fans prepare for the Christmas holiday, many believe a win over the Cardinals is a given -- an automatic. But keep in mind that the Packers and Bengals thought the same way and, if they had done their business, both would be heading into this weekend in control of their own playoff destiny. Because of the Cardinals, neither team is.

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