The formula to success in the NFL is winning of course. The formula for winning and making the playoffs is beating your division opponents. This is something the Arizona Cardinals have not done since week one of the 2012 season when the Cards defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-16. They finished last year 1-5 against the NFC West. This year they are 0-3 so far. They have three more shots.
It starts this week with a home tilt against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams swept the Cards in 2012 and won the season opener in St. Louis 27-24, a game in which the Cards led 24-13 going into the fourth quarter. I’m not the only one who believe that loss could be the deciding factor in whether the Cards make the playoffs or not. Check out the story Dave Burns wrote on Arizonasports.com.
Burns was the first one to say out loud what I’ve thought since that game. It is a game the Cards had to win, week one or week 17. Now, I certainly don’t count the Cards out of the playoff hunt if they lose this week but they really make it hard on themselves at that point, especially given the remaining schedule. There are those out there that believe the only way the Cards get in is by winning all four remaining games. Of course they have one four-game winning streak already, but this grouping of games includes the Seahawks in Seattle and the San Francisco 49ers at home. We all saw what the Hawks did at home to New Orleans on Monday night.
The Cards definitely need to win three out of four given the teams they play. That last game against the Niners looms large if the Cards go 2-1 and the Niners go 1-2 over the next three weeks, something that is possible. The Niners play Seattle at home, then Tampa on the road, and Atlanta at home before coming to Arizona December 29th. If the Niners somehow lose on of those games against the Bucs or Falcons and the Cards manage wins against the Rams and Titans and we allow for the loss in Seattle, then both teams would be 9-6 in week 17. Not a bad proposition. Not the most likely scenario, but still possible. The Cards must beat St. Louis on Sunday though or you can throw all of this out the door.