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Arizona Cardinals don't want to be NFC West's 'stepchild' any longer

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd is congratulated by teammate Larry Fitzgerald (11) after catching a 44-yard pass as St. Louis Rams safety T.J. McDonald, left, looks on during the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald was asked if the fact that the Arizona Cardinals have not beaten an NFC West team in nearly two full seasons has been a talking point this week.

"Yeah, it's been a point of emphasis," he said with a chuckle, before being asked if it's been coming from head coach Bruce Arians. "Not just him. He's mentioned it but amongst teammates; it's been well over a year, and to think we're sitting here fighting for a Wild Card playoff position and we haven't won a division game in a year and almost a half. It just shows you how strong our division is.

"But we're not going to be considered the stepchild any longer; we've got to come out and win some of these games."

Since beating the Seattle Seahawks in Russell Wilson's debut to open last season, the Cardinals have lost eight consecutive games against NFC West opponents.

Last year, they were barely even competitive in losing by scores of 17-3, 24-3, 31-17, 58-0 and 27-13. Things have been a little better this year, as the Cards have fallen by scores of 27-24, 32-20 and 34-22.

However, during the eight-game losing streak the Cardinals have lost average score of 31-13, which is obviously going to have to change if the team wants to keep talking about the playoffs.

"We can't worry about the playoffs," Arians said. "They'll take care of themselves. For us, we have to win in the division. We have three out of four left in the division, and we have to make a statement that we can play in the division."

At 7-5, the Cardinals need to win and receive help from others if they are to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009. But as Arians said, it's useless to talk about scenarios if the team does not start beating divisional foes.

"That's what it's all about," right tackle Eric Winston said. "If you want to go to the playoffs in this league, you've got to win your division and you've got to win division games. Not always win your division, but division games are important. They lead to tie-breakers and are kind of all part of this thing."

Added receiver Michael Floyd: "I think we know what it takes to win games and every game in the division is huge, no matter who it is, and the Rams are just one of the division games where we've got to play to the best of our ability and get this W."

So as the Cardinals prepare for this game, which offers a second shot at the Rams as well as a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive, they do so looking to prove they stack up in a division that just might be the toughest in the NFL.

"That's where we want to be measured, in our division," Arians said. "It's a very difficult division and we know that, but it's time for us to start stepping up and winning these ball games."

About the Author


School: University of Arizona

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: Fall 2008, right before Cardinals Super Bowl run

Favorite sports memory: Being at Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with my dad

Favorite all-time athlete: Larry Centers

Favorite sports movies: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Jerry Maguire

Most crushing sports moment: Grew up in Arizona and went to UA from 2002-06. In short, there are too many to name just one.

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