SEATTLE - Josh McCown watches "Monday Night Football." He always has, ever since growing up in Jacksonville, Texas, with a football-crazy family.
So he probably would have grabbed the remote control and watched Monday’s Philadelphia-St. Louis contest anyway.
McCown just hopes the game means something to him and his Arizona Cardinals teammates.
As long as the 5-9 Cardinals win in Seattle today, a Rams’ loss to the Eagles Monday night will keep Arizona alive in its hopes to win the NFC West.
The 7-7 Seahawks, meanwhile, are desperately trying to bury a disappointing season of their own by finally burying the Cards’ hopes.
Say what you want about a mediocre NFC, or the wretched West, but this Cardinals-Seahawks game is about the playoffs. That’s all the Cards wanted.
"You’re not gonna say, ‘OK, NFL, sorry,’ " McCown said.
"You’re not going to do that.
"It’s funny when you say 5-9, because I don’t even think about 5-9. I think, ‘Two games away if some other stuff happens.’ All I think about is being a playoff team and what it takes to be there. The only time any teams care about their record is when you don’t get into the playoffs. I can’t tell you New England’s record in 16 (regular-season) games last year. I don’t know Carolina’s. Doesn’t matter."
Still, admitted receiver Anquan Boldin, "It’s unreal."
The Cardinals are also still alive for a NFC wild-card spot. But with 10 teams with either a 6-8 or 5-9 record, the dozens of possible combinations and subsequent tiebreakers with two games left make it virtually impossible to boil down a "if this happens, the Cards get in" playoff scenario.
The division title, although also a long shot, is the Cardinals’ best hope.
No team has ever made the playoffs with a 7-9 record. Five teams in NFL history have reached the postseason with 8-8 marks. But once the NFL realigned into eight divisions, the possibility increased of mediocrity making the playoffs.
In fact, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, a member of the competition committee, said concerns about 8-8 and 7-9 teams making the playoffs has been a "hot topic" when the committee meets.
"Typically in this league, something as dramatic as changing teams around and changing the schedule, you have to see a pattern of this type of thing happening year after year," Holmgren said.
"This hasn’t happened yet. There’s always that possibility, but the season isn’t over yet. We’ll see what happens, and we’ll talk about it."
But Holmgren also said he wasn’t going to apologize if his team makes the playoffs, no matter what the Seahawks finish — even if they are 7-9.
"It is embarrassing," Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander said, "but I think everybody would take it."
The Seahawks, though, have some wiggle room with today’s game. The Cardinals do not.
"We have been given a lot of opportunities and we have squandered a lot of them," Arizona defensive end Bertrand Berry said.
"If we squander this one, that’s it. There’s no coming back from 10 losses."
Winning on the road would be an accomplishment for the Cards. Sure, the team broke its 17-game road losing streak earlier this season in Miami, but it is the only road win of the year, and finishing 1-7 on the road would go a long way in explaining how Arizona blew a chance to win a weak West.
There were also two losses to the worst team in the league, San Francisco.
But the Cardinals are talking playoffs, so that washes away the imperfections of a 5-9 record, right?
"Noooo," coach Dennis Green said with emphasis.
"You always have to have everything in perspective. It’s real simple, turn the program around and win while you are doing it. That’s it.
"We’ve had some limited amount of success. We are excited that, even though we have not won as many games as we would have liked to win, we are talking like a lot of other teams are talking."
Are you ready for some football?