Do the Arizona Cardinals seriously have a legitimate chance at the playoffs in 2024?

Many Arizona Cardinals fans who tuned in to watch Wild Card Weekend may be asking when their team will return to the postseason.

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The Arizona Cardinals have a young team, but unlike many organizations that landed a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, they have a franchise quarterback and an identity on offense. When you look at the Carolina Panthers (whose pick belongs to the Chicago Bears), Washington Commanders, and the New England Patriots, what are these teams supposed to look like, exactly? The Cardinals, thankfully, don’t hold that same aura of mystery.

You can also say the same for teams like the Tennessee Titans and the Atlanta Falcons, who are picking seventh and eighth overall, respectively. The Los Angeles Chargers and maybe the New York Giants are the only other teams picking early that may have somewhat of a look associated with them. But even that’s fringe since the Chargers are searching for a new coach and the quarterback situation is murky in East Rutherford.

When you look at how much the Cardinals improved overall as a football team after quarterback Kyler Murray returned, it’s easy to say they have a realistic chance to contend given their 3-5 record in his eight games as the starter. And remember, this was supposed to be a terrible football team in 2023, so in this case, 3-5 isn’t half-bad.

The Arizona Cardinals will make the playoffs in 2024 if…

If the Cardinals add one tackle, one interior lineman, and a real No. 1 receiver, their offense is set for 2024. But they must figure out how to build their defense, and that will be the ultimate deciding factor of whether this team will play beyond the first week of January 2025.

The Arizona Cardinals must not just acquire more talent on defense; but players who can contribute to that aggressive, hard-hitting mentality that head coach Jonathan Gannon craves. They struck gold last offseason with Kyzir White, as he epitomizes the kind of players Gannon wants, and a few more talents like him will turn around the 25th-ranked total defense that was in 2023. 

The offense is nearly set, and the special teams, even with kicker Matt Prater’s mishaps in the final game, are also set. It will be up to the defense to decide whether the Redbirds take two steps forward and will make the jump from 4-13 to a postseason berth.

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(Information provided by Pro-Football-Reference)