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Arizona Cardinals coach Whisenhunt on the importance of Game 1

The Arizona Cardinals are getting ready to play games that actually count starting Sunday when they host the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium.

By all accounts, this would seem like a “must win” for Arizona on their home turf against a division opponent, but head coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t necessarily agree.

“Well it’s the first game, the first game of 16,” Whisenhunt said. “So it’s not going to make or break your season, but there’s been a lot of negativity about our team in training camp and through the season and we want to start out well for our fans.”

I think that fans, analysts, critics and the Cardinals themselves would feel more optimistic about the 2012 season if they record a “W” in their season opener on their home turf. After all, the Cardinals went 1-4 in the preseason and were less than impressive in all five games.

“Playing at home, we’ll have a good crowd; they’ll be excited about our team,” Whisenhunt said. “We would like to represent ourselves well. I think that’s one of our focuses but I don’t think that you can get so wrapped up that it’s a make or break game for you the first game of the year.”

As for facing a division opponent right out of the gate, Arizona and Seattle split the two games last season with each team winning at home.

Whisenhunt seemed to change his tune about the importance of the season opener by the time his press conference was coming to a close on Wednesday.

“It’s an important game for us, no question about it. It’s a division game at home,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve done well at home and any time you play a division game it’s an important game. I’m very glad that we have it at home and I’m glad that we have a chance to put a good foot forward for our fans.”

The Cardinals wrapped up the 2011 with a 4-2 record against the NFC West. Hopefully after Sunday they’ll be 1-0 in 2012.