As the season winds down and the Cardinals are in a great position to make huge strides in year one of the Bruce Arians era, even the words playoffs seem to be fluttering of the lips of fans throughout the valley.
Unlike last year where the playoff talks after four weeks was not only premature but laughable, this season has a different feel to it. While the defense is just as dominant, it is backed by an ever awakening offense, just ignore the running game struggles for now, and a special teams unit that has been one of the best in the league this season, get well soon Justin Bethel and put Tyrann back to return punts please.
There seems to be some questions about the tie breakers going forward, and what it all means for the Cardinals. Jess did a great job of outlining that on Tuesday, but I wanted to go a little bit more in depth with the scenario(s) that need to play out for the Cardinals to go to the playoffs for just the fourth time since moving to the valley.
That's all that matters at this point. Don't leave it up to tiebreakers like point differential, or record versus like opponents... just win.
When the season started, MOST people thought this would play out: Offense improves to around league average, defense regresses to above league average (top 12), and the Cardinals will win between six and nine games, showing improvement week to week. Then the games started and teams like the Falcons and Texans ended up being terrible, the Cardinals would catch some breaks, needed by every team to get to and through the playoffs, and all of a sudden the Cardinals sit at 6-4 with a real shot at the playoffs.
That's where the "just win" comes into play. The truth is there is little chance of the Cardinals going on a nine game winning streak to get to 12-4 and get into the playoffs, just by sheer attrition in the NFL that's something that rarely happens, but that's the mentality this team and this fan base needs to take.
Shaun Church and I have had discussions over the Cardinals season about the lack of enthusiasm from the general populous when it comes to the Cardinals, not the hardcore Revenge of the Birds, Bleacher Report and Arizona Sports readers, but the casual fan that makes up the other 80 percent of a team's base, and it's clear that there is no excitement.
Why? Simply because the narrative of the Cardinals being a good team isn't pushed across the media throughout the country and really even locally.
No one discussed the Cardinals win over the Jaguars this weekend and how it put them in a tie in the standings with the 49ers for the playoffs. When the media talks about the playoff picture you can see the Cardinals logo, but there is no mention, that usually falls to the Bears, Cowboys, hell even the Giants as of late.
After the Panthers squeaked by the Patriots last night all we heard was about Carolina's current win streak, not that their last loss came at the hands of the Cardinals in a 22-6 beatdown. That's why the Cardinals have to continue to "just win" because winning ignites a passion within a town, a state, or a dormant fan base like the one "cheering" for the Cardinals week to week. Don't wait for ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or even the local outlets to tell you that this team is good, because if you wait too long you may miss the journey that takes place in discovering just how good this team can be.