Dec 29, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall (28) against the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff Expansion May Not Have Benefited Arizona Cardinals

While I am extremely disappointed that the Arizona Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs this season with a record of 10-6, I’m not necessarily devastated by it either.  If you think about the road the Cards would have taken and what the Cards can learn from this season, sitting and watching may not be a bad thing for this team.

Even at 10-6, the Cards would have played every playoff game on the road.  Sure, they were 4-4 on the road this season, but that included wins in Jacksonville and holding on in Tennessee.  They barely held on in Tampa.  Of course the win in Seattle has us all giddy for what could come in the near future for the Cards.

When the Cards won the NFC West and went on to the Super Bowl in 2008-09, you had an 11-5 New England Patriots team sitting at home.  It happens.  The Cards got to play two of their three playoff games at home despite a four seed.  That Cards team was not as good as this seasons, an opinion former Cards quarterback Kurt Warner shared last week.

Expansion of the playoffs this season would have been nice just for the sheer fact they would be in the playoffs.  However, the Cards missed the playoffs for one reason.  Missed opportunities.  Two games come to mind.  The opening day loss in St. Louis.  They were up 11 in the fourth quarter.  They should have won that one.  Then in the midst of a winning streak, they went to Philadelphia and laid an egg in the first half.  They made a comeback but bad officiating allowed them to use that as an excuse.  If the Cards had just come out like they did the previous four weeks, it would have never come down to that.

The Cards had shots in New Orleans and San Francisco too.  The Cards held leads in both games and kept both games close until the fourth quarter.  With the exception of St. Louis, the other NFC teams I mentioned there made the playoffs.  Just beat the teams you play and you get in.  Plain and simple.  Those teams all won more games than the Cards.

The hurt of not getting in should drive the Cards even more in 2014.  To come so close and not get in should give the Cards even more determination and resolve heading into the off-season and beyond.  I believe it will and the Cards won’t need any playoff expansion to get in next year.


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