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NFL MONDAY PREVIEW

Arizona Cardinals look to clinch NFC West title

Quarterback Kurt Warner is tied with Johnny Unitas for the most consecutive games with a passer rating of 120 or more and can overtake the Hall of Famer against San Francisco on Monday.

December 14, 2009

Johnny U, meet Johnny U-turn.

Arizona's Kurt Warner, the quarterback who has turned around two foundering franchises, is tied with the great Johnny Unitas for the most consecutive games with a passer rating of 120 or more (four) and can pass the late Hall of Famer tonight against San Francisco.

That record would be nice, Warner says, but pales in comparison to the chance to clinch a second consecutive NFC West title and take the next step toward another Super Bowl run. The Cardinals (8-4) have a three-game lead over the 49ers and can secure the division with a win.

Among the most impressive things about the 38-year-old Warner is the way he changed the culture of losing first with the St. Louis Rams and later with the Cardinals.

Both the Rams and Cardinals had just one winning season in the 10 before Warner led them to the Super Bowl.

"That's the thing that I'll be most proud of when my career's over," Warner said. "I was a part of turning two organizations around. Getting two teams to the Super Bowl that nobody ever expected to get there when I showed up."

At the moment, of course, Warner is focused on the here and now. Tonight, he and the Cardinals will be facing a team that beat them in their opener in a sloppy game at Arizona. The Cardinals had 12 penalties in that 20-16 defeat, and their pass coverage broke down at crucial times.

Now, it's the 49ers who are having a hard time covering. Their pass defense is ranked 27th and has given up 38 pass plays of at least 20 yards, tied for ninth-worst.

What's more, Arizona has won three of its last four games in San Francisco. But the 49ers have alternated road losses and home wins over the last four weeks and are in line to win tonight if they maintain that pattern.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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