I just spent the last hour trying to figure it out. I jotted down all kinds of scenarios: What if this? What if that?
I heard Daryl “Moose” Johnston say it this morning on Doug & Wolf. Will a 10-win season leave the Cardinals home for the playoffs? Is winning out (finishing at 11-5) the only option?
There are too many scenarios to cover; too many games left to know for sure “if this” or “if that.” But in the last hour, one thing is crystal clear to me: The season-opening loss to the St. Louis Rams could haunt the 2013 Arizona Cardinals.
An 11-point fourth quarter lead blown in a game against a division rival. An offense that sputtered in the fourth quarter to the tune of only 67 yards and four first downs. It was Bruce Arians’ first game as the Cardinals coach, so there seemed to be plenty of teaching moments and positives on which they could build.
In retrospect, that loss is killing the Cardinals’ dreams. They’re 0-3 in the division this year, while San Francisco is 3-1. That’s the first tie-breaker between the Cards and Niners, and it’s the main impediment to the postseason for Arizona — at least when it comes to getting in over San Francisco, which has a one-game edge in the standings. A victory at the beginning of the season would have at least given the Cardinals (7-5) more avenues for success at the end.
Arizona has lost eight straight division games; the last win in the NFC West came in Russell Wilson’s NFL debut in the season opener of 2012. Had Arizona been able to beat the Rams on opening day, the setback suffered in Philadelphia on Sunday might have been as minor as the Cardinals are making it out to be.