The 2020 playoffs begin early for the Arizona Cardinals
Sitting as the seventh seed in the NFC playoff race, every game is a must-win for the Arizona Cardinals.
Life in 2020 isn’t fair when you’re the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals, and a handful of other NFC teams fighting for their playoff lives as the 4-7 Washington Football Team (who the Cards beat in week two) or another NFC East team will likely cruise into the playoffs with a sub-500 record barring a winning streak.
Yep, the NFC East still loves to haunt the Cardinals, even if they switched divisions nearly two decades ago. And here sit the Cardinals at 6-4 and third in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
And they may not even receive an invite to play in January. That said, the playoffs don’t begin for the Cardinals after week seventeen or even in December; the playoffs begin this weekend in Foxborough against the New England Patriots.
Sure, the Pats are 4-6 and experiencing what is probably their first non-playoff season since 2008. But not a single one of the NFL’s other 31 teams should take any team coached by Bill Belichick lightly. And you can bet that if the Cardinals hope to beat New England on Sunday they must bring their ‘A’ game with a quarterback in Kyler Murray who is coming off a sprained AC joint. They also find themselves without Larry Fitzgerald, who is on the COVID list this week and won’t play Sunday.
Apart from the Patriots, the Cards still have a few games on their schedule where they are the better team on paper. But if they want a chance to play in January for a chance to capture their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history, they must treat every opponent like the Seahawks or another perennial NFC playoff contender.
Earlier in the season, the Cardinals played down to lesser talent in the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and even the Miami Dolphins. They have also played the NFL’s most talented teams well, including two thrillers against the Seahawks.
If the Cardinals earn a trip to the playoffs they are a legitimate threat to make a run. But to play in January, they must overcome lesser talent that stumped them earlier in the season. They have six games remaining in the regular season. And four of those games are against sub-500 teams. As mentioned earlier, they must treat every game as if they’re playing a playoff contender.