TEMPE, Ariz. — No one has ever complained about a win, but that does not mean some wins are not better than others.
There’s something to be said for a comfortable margin of victory, after all.
In 2011, when the Arizona Cardinals won eight games, the average margin of victory was 4.25 points. Last season, three of the team’s five wins were by four points or less.
Point is, rarely have the Cardinals made it easy on themselves or their fans.
Things have been different this year, though, especially at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Cardinals are 6-1 at home, with point differentials of 4, 16, 14, 3, 13, 29 and 20 in their wins.
That comes out to just more than 14 points a game, or two touchdowns. Including their lone loss, the Cardinals are outscoring opponents 27.6 to 17 at home. They are one of seven teams to score at least 20 points in every home game this season.
The defense has been especially effective in the Grand Canyon State, tallying 23 sacks and 15 turnovers while not yet allowing a 100-yard rusher. In fact, the Cardinals have allowed fewer than 15 points in five of seven home contests.
“I think point differential does speak highly of a football team,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “I think it’s becoming a tough place to come play because most of our big leads are at home because our defense is scoring and our offense is starting to set the pace early in most of these ball games.
“I think it says that we have a pretty good football team.”
Whether the football team will be good enough to make the playoffs remains to be seen, though with three games left it does not look too promising. At 8-5, the Cardinals are currently the seventh seed in the NFC, one game back of both the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers, each of whom they are battling for a Wild Card spot.
Not making the postseason would be a disappointing end to what has been a very pleasing season, especially coming off a 2012 campaign that featured more losses by 14 or more (7) than wins (5).
“It’s just fun being on a good football team,” quarterback Carson Palmer said after Sunday’s win. “It’s fun being in that locker room with that group of guys. With this coaching staff we have fun. We work hard. We enjoy each other.
“We enjoy watching our defense play the way that they did tonight. They enjoy watching us. So it’s been a really fun year, and we just want to keep it rolling.”
No matter where this season ends up, the difference is night and day compared to last year.
Then again, even if the road ahead of them may not be a smooth one, at least the Cardinals are still driving. With three games left they are in contention, and that matters.
“That’s what it’s all about, though,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “At the beginning of the year all we wanted was an opportunity, and this opportunity is right here; we’re just knocking on the door. So we just have to do our part and let the rest take care of itself.”
Since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule, the Cardinals have never won seven home games in a season. Their last game at UofP Stadium is in Week 17 against the 49ers.