As the Arizona Cardinals set to battle the Kansas City Chiefs in what is a must-win for both teams, the teams have relased their inactive lists. For the Cardinals, two defensive starters are inactive--linebacker Clark Haggans and cornerback Greg Toler. Additionally, special teams standouts Jason Wright and LaRod Stephens-Howling are inactive. DL Darnell Dockett and RB Beanie Wells are active, and Wells is likely to get the bulk of the carries unless the team falls behind, although Tim Hightower may start the game. For the Chiefs, their standout rookie tight end Tony Moeaki and starting free safety John McGraw are inactive.
As stated, this game is a must win for both teams. Arizona has lost four straight and, sitting at 3-6, still can be a player in the NFC West, but currently is on the outside. The Chiefs, on the other hand, are still very much in the thick of things in the AFC West, but are coming off of two losses.
With Stephens-Howling, Wright and Toler all inactive, this leaves some holes in Arizona's special teams play, as all three start there. Steve Breaston returned kickoffs late in the game against Seattle, but this is less than ideal as he is one of the Cardinals' most important offensive playmakers. Newly promoted Alphonso Smith will fill in for Wright, but the team will need other players to step up, as Toler plays an important roel as gunner on the punt team.
Arizona's rushing attack gets a boost and a blow simultaneously, getting Wells back but losing "Hyphen" (Stephens-Howling). Hyphen has been surprisingly effective out of the backfield, but a healthy Beanie is just what the team needs, as he has stated that his knee feels better than it has all season. Being able to run the ball effectively will allow the offense to rely on QB Derek Anderson, who bounces inexplicably between "Good DA" and "Bad DA" at random moments throughout games.
With TE Moeaki out, this will be a breath of fresh air for Adrian Wilson and the Arizona secondary, as they have struggle all year in coverage against opposing tight ends.
The return of Darnell Dockett and rookie DT Dan Williams, who missed practice time because of a calf injury, will be a boost against the vaunted Kansas City rushing attack. Even still, being that even with Dockett starting the Cardinals are allowing over 130 rushing yards a game, ranking 28th in the NFL. Granted, much of that happened without run-stopping LB Gerald Hayes, but the Cardinals' defensive front has been a disappointment this year.
Can Arizona pull the upset? Will they suffer another blowout loss on the road? Is the season officially done? We will soon find out.