Arizona Cardinals are legitimate playoff contenders

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The time to jump on the bandwagon is now

I am an unashamed Arizona Cardinals fan. I know disappointment. I also am ready to say that this year's Cardinals are real playoff contenders.

It was four weeks ago, coming off the loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks. We were discussing on our radio show/podcast about what it would take for the Cardinals to be playoff contenders. With the four game stretch of the Falcons, Texans, Jaguars and Colts, many thought that 3-1 was needed for them to have any real playoff chances.

I wasn't ready to say that. I said they really needed to win all four games to really have a shot at the playoffs.

Guess what?

They won all four games. As of today, Arizona holds the sixth playoff spot in the NFC. Of course, a San Francisco 49ers win on Monday night bumps them back to number seven with five games to play.

But the truth is, these Cardinals, after all they put us through at the start of the season, have real playoff chances. It isn't like in 2011, where they had to win and then other things had to happen. If they keep winning, they will be in.

What is left on the schedule are games at the Eagles, at home against the Rams, at the Titans, at the Seahawks and at home against the 49ers. The truth is that four of those five games are very winnable, especially with how the team is playing. The offense has come around and the defense continues to shine.

With the way the Cardinals played on Sunday, is there a team in the NFC that could beat them? You could say Seattle and New Orleans, or maybe the 49ers, but when you do that, you are now putting the Cardinals among the best teams in the league.

I said before the season began that the team could go anywhere between 5-11 and 11-5. My thinking was that with the talent they have, it could either have turned into a train wreck because of the offense or because of the defensive changes, or they could get on a roll and win a bunch of games. I predicted that they would go 9-7 and miss the playoffs after losing to the Niners in Week 17.

I'm not saying that they are a playoff lock. But the postseason is viably within reach, and now is the time to embrace the team's potential.

The national media is now starting to take notice. Just last night, as I was driving home from the stadium, ESPN Radio was posing the question, "Do we have to take the Arizona Cardinals seriously?"

The answer is yes.

Arizona fans are notorious for jumping on board with their teams once they have some momentum. Now is that time. The defense is good. The offense has put up 27 points or more in four straight games. This isn't a team of smoke and mirrors.

So, Cardinals fans. It is time to go all in emotionally with this team. They have shown you they can beat a sure playoff team. They need you.

In going all in with the Cards, you must know that this could end very disappointingly. But this year's team is worth it. For once, contention is not some pipe dream. It is here. The ride, regardless how it ends, will be worth it. That much I can promise you.

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