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Cardinals' strategy over final two games

The Cardinals will play to win over their final two regular-season games, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, but they might also rest key players as needed.

This sounds like the right balance.

Arizona, currently the fourth seed in the NFC, still has a chance to displace Minnesota as the second seed. For that to happen, though, the Vikings would have to go 0-2 while the Cardinals won out. Minnesota visits Chicago before facing the Giants at home. The Cardinals have the Rams and Packers, both at home. The Cardinals could also pass Philadelphia for the third seed. The Eagles, 10-4, face the Broncos at home and the Cowboys on the road.

One more victory would get the Cardinals to at least 10-6 this season. That 10th victory would be meaningful because it would demonstrate clear progress from last season, when the Cardinals were 9-7.

If the Cardinals beat the Rams in Week 16, they could then reevaluate their strategy on resting players based on how the Vikings and Eagles fared. Quarterback Kurt Warner has appeared beaten up a bit in recent weeks. Starting Matt Leinart in Week 17 could make sense by protecting Warner while giving the Packers little to go on if the teams met again in the playoffs.

Resting receiver Larry Fitzgerald and linebacker Gerald Hayes could also help those players overcome recent injuries.