There are two things that I still anticipate the same way the chubby, goofy 10-year-old version of myself with the bad hair cut used to (truth be told, the only thing that has really changed about me is my age). Those two things are the start of the Cardinals season and summer movies.
No matter how much I anticipated either as a kid, they inevitably disappointed me every year. That wasn't tough to do as a Cardinals fan and growing up in the movie wasteland that was the mid ‘90s. (I mean really, the best things to come out that I could see as a early teen were Titanic, As Good As It Gets and Jerry Maguire. I saw the latter with my grandparents, which is not exactly the way you want to be introduced to the nude female body. Then again neither is having Tom Cruise on top of said nude female body. But I digress.)
With this summer's "blockbusters" falling pretty flat and many of the national media expecting the Cardinals to follow suit, why not combine both to preview the opponents our beloved NFL franchise will face off against this season?
The format is pretty simple: six different categories, all represented by six different films from Hollywood's Summer of 2010, each with a description and the Cards' opponents that fit.
Sex and the City 2
A group that used to be "sexy" now just comes off as desperate and over-hyped in their pursuit of the "ring".
At the Minnesota Vikings, November 7: I mean really, the Vikings and Brad Childress are like any of the guys who were with Kim Cattrall's character Samantha. They're willing to run around and make idiots out of themselves to get someone over-aged and full of themselves.
Dallas Cowboys, December 25: Like the stars of the movie, the Cowboys have taken a chance with anyone willing to look at them in hopes of getting a shot at getting the "ring" (see: TO, Roy Williams and Bill Parcells). When you add in Jerry Jones' obvious plastic surgeries, Tony Romo's romantic escapades, the fact that Miles Austin is dating Kim Kardashian and that Dez Bryant's mother may or may not have been a prostitute, you have precisely the story lines and characters in the film.
Synopsis: The Cardinals will probably fair about as well in these games as the film did at the box office and will split the pair. The only difference is that mostly men will watch them, while only women would dare to be found buying tickets to Sex and the City 2.
In theory, they should be action-packed because of the league they're in, but the poor players just make it unintentionally humorous.
Oakland Raiders, September 26; Tampa Bay Buccaneers, October 31; and Kansas City Chiefs, November 21: Just look at these teams' rosters and you'll see that on the surface they may look to have talent. But deep down, it has all been falsely inflated and sure to fall flat. Not that unlike Sylvester Stallone and his band of merry (allegedly)roided men in this film.
Synopsis: If the Cards don't sweep this trio of the terrible, who combined for a total of 12 wins in 2009, the season might be a lot worse than even the national "experts" have predicted.
Eat Pray Love
This game, the Cards will "Eat" their pregame meal, "Pray" they don't get hurt and "Love" it if they actually win.
New Orleans Saints, October 10: Like the actress who played the main character in the movie, Julia Roberts, the Saints and Drew Brees are everyone's darlings. Like the film with the critics, the Cardinals took a beating when these two teams met in January.
Synopsis: The Cardinals were outmatched by the Saints when they had Kurt Warner and looked even worse when they knocked him out. This is a game where the Red Birds and their fans should be happy to just get out with Derek Anderson still standing and having not thrown six interceptions.
The story of a bunch of blood suckers fighting to defeat their enemies and take control.
All in-division NFC West games: The 49ers, Seahawks and Rams all think the Cardinals are in the "Twilight" of their run in the division and they are looking to fight to "Eclipse" the Cards' rising star. Like the vampires and werewolves in the film, these NFC West foes are like the undead: no matter how many times you try to kill them, they just keep coming back for more. (OK, they all can't be fantastic.)
Synopsis: The Cards aren't that much worse than they've been in the last three seasons and no one in the division has taken a major step forward to beat them. Those picking the 49ers to beat the Cards and win the division are using the retirement of Kurt Warner and the arrival of Derek Anderson as the reason why. Problem is, they fail to realize that they are betting against the back-to-back division champs for the same reason the 49ers will fail: poor quarterback play. Alex Smith isn't any better -- and, in fact, probably worse -- than Derek Anderson. While the 49ers are a worthy adversary, the Seahawks and Rams are a year or two away. I'll take the Cards to win four of their six division games in the West.
A rag tag group of skilled professionals who look bad, but can get the job done in the most unusual of ways.
Denver Broncos, December 12 and at Carolina Panthers, December 19: Both Denver and Carolina had mediocre years in 2009, each recording eight wins (basically being sentenced to the prison, or limbo, of the NFL). Neither team has a great quarterback or defense (Carolina lost Julius Peppers to free agency and Denver lost Elvis Dumervil to injury). They are wild cards, like the A-Team, and could just as easily be league laughing stocks as much as they could "breakout" and wreak havoc on the league itself. With these games coming in the final month of the season, they have the potential to do a lot of damage to the Cardinals' playoff hopes.
Synopsis: These teams are too tough to tell how they'll be come December. With one at home, Denver, and one on the road, Carolina, it looks like this will most likely be a split for the Cards.
The Other Guys
An odd pair who have the potential to be as awkward as they are good. They have a chance to step up like the league's top teams whom they idolize if they can get out of their own way.
At Atlanta Falcons, September 9 and at San Diego Chargers, October 3: These two teams are an interesting pair. San Diego made the playoffs last season after winning 13 games, while Atlanta took a step back and missed the playoffs, finishing 9-7. While Atlanta seems to be an up and coming team, like Mark Walberg was an up and coming cop in the NYPD, they have flaws that may hold them back (see the development of Matt Ryan as an example). Like Will Ferell's character, San Diego -- or as it's called in its native German ... oh, nevermind -- is content with where it's at, not wanting to rock the boat too much to either improve or fail. They're solid, but not quite elite and they've had an awkward offseason with the Vincent Jackson holdout and the loss of LaDainian Tomlinson in free agency. Like in the film, by the end, both of these teams will probably have it all figured out and make it to the playoffs.
Synopsis: Both the Chargers and the Falcons have the potential to be really good teams with really good quarterbacks. The best thing for the Cardinals is that they are getting them relatively early in the season. That said, both games are on the road, so a split for the the Birdgang is likely.
So there you have it. The Arizona Cardinals schedule as broken down by the summer's Hollywood movies. Like it was for Hollywood, this won't be a record-breaking year for the Cards, but they should finish alright with, if my math is correct, a 10-6 record and another NFC West division crown. Grab your popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show. In the NFL, nothing ever goes by the script and who knows, maybe this entire thing has just been a dream like Inception. Or was it?