TEMPE, Ariz. — What happens Sunday in New Orleans is of great importance to the Arizona Cardinals, but don’t expect them to be paying attention to what’s happening between the Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After all, they’ll kind of have their hands full with the San Francisco 49ers at the same time.
“The only thing that’s going to matter to us is what’s happening on the field,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “That game doesn’t matter unless our scoreboard is reading right.”
The Cardinals’ playoff scenario is well known at this point. A win against the 49ers coupled with a Saints loss or tie means they’re in. A tie against San Francisco along with a Saints loss would suffice, as would a Cardinals win along with a Saints tie. Anything else, though, and they won’t be playing past Week 17.
It’s not an enviable position to be in, needing a nearly two-touchdown underdog to come through for you, but at least there’s a chance.
“You can’t worry,” quarterback Carson Palmer said of only being able to control so much of their playoff fate. “It’s hard to not, but you just can’t worry. You can’t think about that stuff. We have a chance to beat the San Francisco 49ers at our place. We know they’re going into the playoffs, so we have a chance to send them into the playoffs with a loss.
“That’s really the only focus that we can have.”
After all, the only part of the Cardinals’ playoff scenario the team does control is the game on their field, and a loss would render everything else moot. That’s not to say fans will not be checking their phones throughout the game to see what is happening in the Big Easy or that the scores from around the league will not be displayed somewhere at University of Phoenix Stadium. But looking is not an option for those on the field.
“I’m going to try not to,” Palmer said of scoreboard watching. “That’s another thing you learn is just focus. Playing quarterback, you have to focus on your job; you have to focus on what the pictures show from the last series as you’re sitting there on the sideline and what to expect on the next play.”
But, Palmer admitted, it may be a bit tough not to know.
“I’m sure it’s going to be plastered all over the stadium,” he said. “It’s probably not going to be easy to avoid, but we have to focus on the team that’s across from us.”