Is there any hope left for this team? Doubtful. As must-win games go, last week's embarrassing loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks was probably one of them. If the Arizona Cardinals couldn't get themselves together for a game of that magnitude, their chances against a better team in the Kansas City Chiefs and in a tough road environment like Arrowhead Stadium are not great.
Also working against the Cardinals are two statistics: the Chiefs are first in rushing offense with 165.3 yards per game and the Cardinals are ranked 28 in rushing yards allowed, at 132.4 a game. This would seem to prognosticate that Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are going to run right down the Red Birds' throats sans mercy.
And even though they lead the league in rushing, Kansas City's passing game is improving, as well. Since his first couple dud games, quarterback Matt Cassell has his QB rating up to a very respectable 104.5, passing for 15 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Primary target Dwayne Bowe is having a great year and against a struggling Arizona secondary, may have another fantastic game.
Both teams are coming off of multi-game losing streaks, but the Chiefs, outside of a thumping in Denver against the Broncos, have shown fight in every game. The Cards, however, have been mostly inconsistent and lackadaisical all season long so far. The Chiefs are right in the middle of a battle for the division, while Arizona, after losing four games in a row, is on the outside of the postseason picture looking in. Whose motivation will prevail?
The Cardinals will likely have to go into an already lopsided battle without Pro Bowl-esque kick returner and rare bright spot LaRod Stephens-Howling, who has been battling a hamstring injury for the past week. As of right now, he's officially listed as questionable, though he didn't practice all week and the team released receiver Max Komar in order to promote running back Alfonso Smith from the practice squad as insurance for their thinned running corps. Beanie Wells is likely to play after being hampered by knee swelling, though it's unknown what kind of role he'll play.
As far as injuries go, Arizona gets a small break: Kansas City's standout rookie tight end Tony Moeaki will miss the game after suffering a head injury in last week's game. This should make Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson feel a little better, since he's been burned in coverage by opposing tight ends all season.
This should be an interesting matchup. It's the first time Chiefs head coach Todd Haley has faced ex-boss Ken Whisenhunt since leaving his position as Cardinals offensive coordinator to coach in Kansas City. Both coaches love trick plays, so it'll be fun to see what kinds of shenanigans they pull out of their hats. But really, the only trick Haley may need is switching between Charles and Jones every once in a while.
If Arizona loses its fifth game in a row, is their season effectively over? If so, do they start rolling out Max Hall or even John Skelton to play out the string and prove they're worth keeping around next season? It's been a rough run for the team and its fans and it would seem it's going to get even rougher against the Chiefs, barring a fairly shocking upset.