ESPN’s John Clayton: Cardinals winning out a difficult task
Dec 9, 2016, 12:50 PM | Updated: Dec 10, 2016, 10:50 am
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
The best chance for the Arizona Cardinals to make the playoffs this year is to win nine games, according to a pair of ESPN analysts. Meaning the Cardinals would need to win their final four games.
Is it possible? Yes. But it’s a difficult task that ESPN’s John Clayton thinks is unattainable.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” Clayton told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf on Friday. “The standard right now is that sixth spot and I think it’s going to be nine wins. If they can sweep out and get to 9-6-1 then yeah they can do that. But I think if there is one more loss in there, then I don’t think it will happen. That loss could be Sunday, it could be against the Seattle Seahawks.”
Traveling to the East Coast hasn’t been kind to the Cardinals this year, as they are 0-4 when traveling east of the Rockies with losses to Buffalo, Carolina, Minnesota and Atlanta.
The Cardinals are 1-4 on the road, with their lone win coming in Week 5 against San Francisco, and play three of their final four games away from University of Phoenix Stadium. They host New Orleans next week before closing out the season with road games in Seattle and Los Angeles.
The Seahawks have been on a tear of sorts since tying the Cardinals back in Week 7, going 4-2 to hold a strong grip on the NFC West with an 8-3-1 record.
If the playoffs started Friday, Dallas and Seattle would be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, followed by Detroit and Atlanta, with New York and Tampa Bay holding down the two wild card spots.
If the Cardinals are to make the playoffs, they are going to need some help in leap-frogging Green Bay, Minnesota, Washington and Tampa Bay to secure the final spot.
“You look at the dynamics, you know the Giants are going to win 10 or 11, most likely 10,” Clayton said. “Is it going to be Minnesota? I think the nine is going to be dangling there as a possibility, even Tampa Bay at 7-5, I don’t see them being nine. So even nine is a possibility, but to get nine means a sweep.”
While Clayton doesn’t seem confident in the Cardinals ability to win out and finish 9-6-1, fellow ESPN NFL insider Ron Jaworski thinks otherwise.
“I think there’s more than hope, I think they’re going to be a playoff team,” Jaworski told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo on Thursday. “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.”
Jaworski points to coach Bruce Arians’ decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Cardinals’ 34-yard line in their 31-23 win over the Redskins as reasons why the team could be dangerous down the stretch. It’s reminiscent of last year’s successful 13-3 team that fell one win shy of the Super Bowl, and Arians’ philosophy of his “no risk-it, no biscuit” ways.
“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.”