Don’t look now, but the Arizona Cardinals are making their way into the NFC playoff race.
With an impressive performance on Sunday against Houston, the Cardinals have improved to 5-4 and are making a statement that they deserve to be considered playoff contenders.
Arizona’s outstanding defense was put in some difficult positions by the Cardinals’ shaky offense, as Carson Palmer threw an interception and lost a fumble, while Rashard Mendenhall fumbled at the Cardinals’ 5-yard line with five minutes left in the game. Those turnovers were the reason the Texans were able to keep it close even though Houston had only one drive of 50 yards or longer.
But in the end, the Cardinals’ defense was too much. They held the Texans to 41 yards in the second half, stopped the Texans’ final drive, and the Cardinals won, 27-24.
Can the Cardinals make it to the playoffs? They’ve got an uphill battle. They almost certainly won’t catch the Seahawks in the NFC West, but they’re only a game behind the Panthers and 49ers in the wild card race. If they can catch fire down the stretch, they can make some noise.
In fact, they’re already making noise. The offense needs to play better, but the defense is already playing great. And through nine games, Arizona is a winning team.