The 2013 Arizona Cardinals found respectability in the NFL once again. They exceeded a lot of expectations given the roster and coaching staff turnover from 2012. They still have one issue that continues to dog them though, winning NFC West divisional games.
They did finally get over the hump by beating the St. Louis Rams at home and the Seattle Seahawks on the road in December but they failed to beat the San Francisco 49ers for the second straight year. They need to consistently win at home and on the road when it comes to divisional games. They were 2-4 within the NFC West in 2013.
This is off the heels of a 1-5 NFC West record in 2012. If they could have gone 4-2 in the division like they did in 2011, that would have been good enough to make the playoffs in 2013. We can look back at games in St. Louis and the two games against the Niners as games that could have been for the Cards and the three biggest reasons the Cards sit at home Sunday evening making off-season plans rather than post-season ones.
I think the schedule makers weren’t the kindest to the Cards in terms of when they played where within the division, such as going to Seattle in December. However that was one game they overcame and won. I do think they did a good job of spreading out the NFC West games though over the 17 week schedule. They opened with the Rams and closed with the Niners. They’ve now finished three of the last four seasons against the Niners. It would be nice to see the NFL schedule the Rams in week 17 to give some balance. The Cards finished against the Seahawks in 2011, the second year in which the NFL went to an all divisional game matchup on the schedule in week 17.
In the end though, it doesn’t really matter when the Cards play these three teams. What matters is they start winning these games with some consistency. I think they made strides in December but they still need to get over the Niners hump. I would not be surprised to see the Cards sweep them in 2014.