Cardinals season success hinges on games against division foes

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A trip to Seattle will be a great barometer to where the team truly is.

This isn't to drop a negative on what has been an excellent first season as Cardinals head coach, but Coach Bruce Arians has some work to do before he gets all the credit that has started to pour in.

Not trying to say he isn't worthy of the praise bestowed on him by MMQB, but this is to say these next two games are really the time to "prove it", to prove that this season, the good that has gone into it and the growth that has happened is not just a combination of catching teams at the right time, or winning games that "don't matter" but that the Arizona Cardinals, whether in the playoffs at the end or not, are for real.

Many might say, "This is the fourth winning season in the history of the Arizona Cardinals, how can you say success hinges on the last two games, it's already a success?"

The answer is simple, it is time to start looking past the history of the Cardinals, a history of failure and mediocrity and start looking at success from an NFL point of view of competing year in and year out for championships.

It starts this Sunday with the chance to slay the dragon known as the Seattle Seahawks.

There's really no how to, and Shaun will do a fine job of pointing out the three keys to the game on tomorrow, but there are some interesting things to look at with just how good the Cardinals have been over their last seven games.

The Cardinals, like the Seahawks, are 6-1 since their week seven loss to the Seahawks and in that time the quarterback play has been eerily similar:

Wilson: 6-1, 116-of-170, 68.2%, 1,588 yards, 13 touchdowns, four interceptions, 9.34 Y/A, 113.6 passer rating

Palmer: 6-1, 160-of-232, 68.9%, 1,948 yards, 13 touchdowns, four interceptions, 8.4 Y/A, 106.0 passer rating.

The Palmer the last seven games has made the Cardinals into contenders, yes the defense is special but that didn't matter the first seven games when Palmer was putting up these numbers:

3-4, 161-of-266 60.5% 1,741 yards, eight touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 6.5 Y/A, 69.5 passer rating.

There's a clear and concise way to look at the Palmer numbers, the Cardinals only go as their quarterback goes, and against the Seahawks that's a scary proposition.

The Seahawks defense is allowing an average of 19-of-33, 57.5%, 174 yards, one touchdown and 1.6 interceptions to opposing quarterbacks.

Interestingly enough the quarterback play by the Colts and 49ers, their two losses, wasn't great, as Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick combined to go a paltry 31-of-58 53%, 404 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

It plays into the Seahawks hands to throw the ball around the field because their pass defense is so dominant, in fact the only team to play within one score throwing the ball as much as the Cardinals do with Palmer was the Houston Texans in week four of the season.

Can the Cardinals break that streak? The Seahawks have not lost a home game in almost two calendar years, their last home loss was to the 49ers in 2011 on December 24.

Can Carson Palmer throw the ball successfully and lead the Cardinals to a win? The last quarterback to throw the ball for over 300 yards in a win against the Seahawks was in week eight of last season in Detroit, and the last quarterback to do it in Seattle was Rex Grossman in November of 2011 when the Seahawks were 4-7.

There's a lot on the line come Sunday for the Cardinals, their coaching staff and it will offer a great measuring stick for the season.

A win would show that the Cardinals are close to being a great team in the league, a close loss will show they are almost over the hump and maybe a year away, and anything else will leave a bitter taste in a lot of peoples mouth, and show that there is still a lot of work to do.

Let's hope Coach Arians and company have the troops prepared.

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