The Cardinals have put themselves in a tough spot in the playoff chase.
A win this week for the Arizona Cardinals would have meant that they moved over the .500 mark, and at worst, stayed two games back of Seattle in the NFC West, with a game still to play against them at home. It would also have meant they were no more than one win behind the leader for the NFC’s second wild card spot. They needed a win though.
In a game that mattered for the struggling Minnesota Vikings just as much as it did for Arizona, the Vikings flexed its muscle on defense an in special teams to get a 30-24 win. Quarterback Carson Palmer threw two interceptions, one that was returned 100 yards for a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Cardinals kickoff coverage team surrendered a 104 yard kickoff return to Cordarrelle Patterson to open up the second half. Those two plays weren’t solely to blame for the loss, but they were big factors.
David Johnson had another terrific game, rushing for 103 yards and a score. He added
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57 yards receiving and another touchdown. The defense also played pretty well, giving up just 217 yards of total offense.
The loss puts the Cardinals in a precarious position in relation to the playoffs. They now sit 3 wins behind the Giants, and two wins behind the Vikings and possibly the Redskins, depending on their game this week. With just six games to play, that will be difficult to overcome.
Of bigger concern is the performance of Carson Palmer, who threw two more interceptions today, including the pick six that resulted in no less than a 10 point swing. The coaching staff may need to adjust their philosophy and rely on the running game more than the passing game, especially with the breakdowns in protection and injuries on the offensive line. If they can’t adjust, or are unable to get Palmer on track, the playoffs are definitely out of reach.