All-NFC West title game is a crushing blow to the Cardinals

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) Elijah Mitchell
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) Elijah Mitchell /

An NFC Championship game featuring the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers is a nightmare come true for the Arizona Cardinals.

Back in early December, a significant number of analysts were referring to the Arizona Cardinals as the best team in the National Football League.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury‘s squad, having raced out to a 10-2 record, were well on their way to winning the NFC West. The Cards were enjoying a comfortable two-game cushion over the Los Angeles Rams and a dominating four-game advantage over the San Francisco 49ers. A division title, and perhaps even a Super Bowl championship, seemed like a real possibility for the long-suffering franchise.

Unfortunately, those goals are no longer a reality for the Cardinals. The club proceeded to blow that two-game lead by winning just one time during the last five weeks, basically handing the division crown to the Rams on a silver platter.

Arizona Cardinals sit at home while their division rivals meet for the NFC title

Los Angeles benefited greatly from Arizona’s late-season collapse. First, head coach Sean McVay’s crew inflicted a 34-11 beatdown on the Redbirds during the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The Rams followed that up with a 30-27 triumph over Tom Brady‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.

San Francisco fought their way into the postseason by emerging victorious in four out of their final five regular-season matchups. The 49ers began their playoff run with a 23-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys, and then they posted a 13-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers last Saturday.

The fact that the Cards are sitting at home while two of their division rivals will meet in this Sunday’s NFC Championship game is hard to stomach. Especially when you consider that “Big Red” won both of their contests with San Francisco in 2021 and also thoroughly defeated Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium back in October.

Arizona owner Michael Bidwill described how agonizing it is to see the Rams and 49ers still competing while Arizona is now eliminated.

"“Anytime you see your direct competitors in the playoffs, it should bother any football fan. And it certainly bothers this one.”"

The owner’s feelings about Los Angeles and San Francisco still being alive are right on. Bidwill now has an entire offseason to turn the tide and make sure that the Cardinals advance further than their NFC West rivals when next year rolls around.

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