Cardinals could end up on the outside looking in

USA TODAY Sports

As of yesterday, the Cardinals were in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West, with a chance to complete a sweep of the Seahawks and thereafter continue a climb toward a division title and, possibly, the No. 1 seed in the NFC. As of today, the Cardinals stand at 6-4, and they have a six-game homestretch that could ultimately knock them out of the playoffs.

The next three games become critical to their chances, with criss-crossing cross-country trips as they play the Patriots in New England and the Rams at home and the Giants in New Jersey. Losing two of those games would drop them to 7-6, a record that could make them vulnerable to losing the No. 7 seed to the Vikings or Lions or 49ers.

The Cardinals finish with home games against the Eagles and 49ers followed by a trip to L.A. to face the Rams. None will be easy games; the Eagles may be in the midst of another late-season surge, the 49ers could get hot and have a chance to steal the last seat at the table, and the Rams surely will be in the thick of things come Week 17.

The reality for the Cardinals is this: With four losses in 10 games, the margin for error is shrinking. Will a 4-2 finish be good enough to get the No. 7 seed? Maybe. Will 3-3 do the trick? Maybe not.

Regardless, they’ll need to take full advantage of the extra time they have to get ready for a New England defense that recently shut down Lamar Jackson and that may have been given a blueprint by the Seahawks for slowing down Kyler Murray. Then there’s the potential Kyler Murray shoulder/arm injury (he said “I’m good” after the game), which could affect his preparation for and performance in his game against the Patriots.

The point is that it won’t be easy. The point is that the Cardinals, who thanks to Murray and DeAndre Hopkins and the Hail Murray have become a compelling and interesting team, are sliding toward must-win-every-week mode in order to get a spot at the postseason party.

7 responses to “Cardinals could end up on the outside looking in

  1. That’s the story in the NFCWest tis year. Every game is “must win”. Seattle’s back-ups played out of their minds last night. Having a true starting caliber running back made all the difference. Cardinals are still in the fight, and either Seattle or AZ will win the West.

  2. The Cardinals should ask the Seahawks about Belichick’s defensive prowness. Even Fielding a team mostly of second and third stringers, even with Cam as QB, the Pats, while not a very good team overall, can beat you.

  3. Folks across the Nation were giddy about the Cardinals & Murray after they beat the Bills in the Hail Murphy game. Most were writing off Russell & the Seahawks. How fast one game later the tone completely changed. The Cardinals played well, but the Seahawks were a better team last night. That all said, I believe both teams and the Rams will all make the playoffs.

  4. We were definitely watching the 2nd and 3rd place teams in the division on Thursday night. But they both have easier schedules than the Rams.

  5. Without that Hail Murray pass, the Cards would be in even more of a must win situation for the rest of the season. With the proliferation of mobile QBs more teams are building D’s to stop them.

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