Dec 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (31) celebrates a fumble recovery against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals Playoff Scenarios Are Simple

Before yesterday, there were many playoff scenarios for the Arizona Cardinals.  After a Cards win over the Seattle Seahawks and a New Orleans Saints loss to the Carolina Panthers, now the Cards are down to just two scenarios to make it into the playoffs.

The first scenario involves tonight’s game with Atlanta Falcons taking on the San Francisco 49ers in the final game in San Francisco. If the Niners lose tonight and then the Cards beat the Niners next Sunday at home, then the Cards are in.  With the atmosphere of the final game at Candlestick Park, it could be a tough task, especially given the way the Falcons have played this year.  However, as we saw yesterday and all season long, just when you think you have a team or a game figured out, the opposite happens.

The second scenario that would need to play out if the Niners win tonight, is the New Orleans Saints would need to lose at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cards would need to beat the Niners at home.  I have more confidence in the Falcons in San Francisco than the Bucs in New Orleans.  The Bucs didn’t play well in the dome in St. Louis yesterday.

The most likely scenario is the Cards out of the playoffs at 11-5 or 10-6.  It will be a disappointment but you still have to say what a wonderful season this has been.  This team is better than the one that went to the Super Bowl.  Unfortunately the NFC West is better this year than that Super Bowl year as well, so the Cards very likely find themselves as the best team missing the playoffs.  Most years I would be devastated at the thought.  This year, I’m surprisingly calm about it.  That is because now I know the future is bright.  Now I know, we all know, the Cards can play with anyone in the division, the conference, and the NFL.  If you can win in Seattle, in that atmosphere, at this time of year with what was on the table for both teams, the Cards can beat anyone anyday.  Missing the playoffs will be disappointing, not devastating.

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