Nine wins remain in reach of the Arizona Cardinals, and nine wins may just be enough to make the NFL playoffs as a wild card.
Of course, only four games remain on the 5-6-1 Cardinals’ schedule. The odds of Arizona reaching postseason aren’t great.
Is there reason to hope?
Ron Jaworski of ESPN thinks so. In fact, when he joined the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday, Jaws brought more than optimism. He brought belief.
“I think there’s more than hope, I think they’re going to be a playoff team,” Jaworski said. “I believe the Cardinals will be a playoff team. (Finishing) 9-6-1 will get them in the playoffs. I think they can win their next four games. Obviously, the big test is going to be the Seattle Seahawks, but the other games are winnable football games. Call me crazy but that’s how I see it.
“I got excited over that win against the Redskins.”
Arizona closes the year at Miami, at home against New Orleans and then on the road at Seattle and then Los Angeles.
But it was the Cardinals’ 31-23 win against the Redskins that left an impression on the NFL analyst. Jaworski saw their steady defense turn the tide with big turnovers.
Head coach Bruce Arians’ gutsy call to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Cardinals’ own 34-yard line saw him get back to his “no risk-it, no biscuit” ways.
That play might suggest the Cardinals could be willing to take more risks. And Jaworski said it makes Arizona dangerous.
“It was reckless going for it,” Jaworski said. “Teams like this are very hard to play against because they’re willing to try anything. It’s a desperate football team.”
And for a big-play offense that finally hit a deep ball to J.J. Nelson to close that fateful drive, well, Jaworski pointed out that the play-calling actually looked much different than it has under Arians.
While running back David Johnson continued to thrive behind a patch-work offensive line, quarterback Carson Palmer threw 46 times for 300 yards, no picks and three scores in the victory.
“I went through the offensive tape this morning … it was a short quick passing game,” Jaworski said, adding that 26 percent of Palmer’s attempts were at or behind the line of scrimmage. “That was the highest short-passing amount of the season.
“He wasn’t throwing the ball down the field,” Jaworski added. “I thought it was a rock-solid game by Carson Palmer against the Redskins.”