Monday night’s Arizona Cardinals game against the San Francisco 49ers, which they lost in embarrassing fashion, was a critical game for three big reasons:
1) It would have broken a three-game losing skid and place them with a winning record at the halfway point of the season.
2) It would have placed them in a tie for the NFC West division lead, a game ahead of the Seattle Seahawks.
3) It would have given them a record of 1-0 against both the Seahawks and the Niners — and head-to head play and division play become important considerations in the playoff tiebreaker scenarios (which seems more and more likely).
Unfortunately, the Cardinals failed to show up. Their offensive line continued to be awful, and their running game was non-existent. Even worse, their stellar defense was picked apart by Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and the rest of the Niners offense, and the Cardinals compounded the problem by missing tackles and blowing pass coverage all game. Unfortunately, this loss wipes away the great 4-0 start the Cardinals had, and has put them in a very difficult position of winning the division or even gaining a playoff position as a wild card team.