What will it take for the Arizona Cardinals to make the postseason for the second consecutive season? It will take wins, naturally, and more wins than at least two teams in the NFL West. 10 wins is a good number to at least shoot for.
But that is obvious.
What other stat or number should be considered the key stat that propels the Cardinals to the playoffs?
Chris Simms, a Bleacher Report analyst, believes it is 1700 rushing yards that will "define the Cardinals season".
Simms says the Cardinals "were fortunate to get to the playoffs" because of the injuries that set them back. That's hard to refute.
"The inability to run the football just put too much pressure on the passing game, too much pressure on the defense, and I don't think you can expect to win like that two years in a row," he explains.
After rushing for just over 1300 yards as a team in 2014, the Cardinals have made running the football with success in 2015 a point of emphasis. They added guard Mike Iupati, one of the best run blocking guards in the game. They added center A.Q. Shipley, who graded highly as a run blocker in his time in the lineup in Indianapolis. They drafted David Johnson.
Clearly they want to be better in the running game to balance out the offense.
The question is whether 1700 yards is the defining stat or not.
It's a good start, but it is not some money stat. Nine teams rushed for at least that many yards as a team and did not make the postseason. Three rushed for over 2000 yards collectively and saw their season end after Week 17.
2015 will still come down to Carson Palmer and his play. It is a quarterback-driven league and Palmer is the important player. A stronger rushing attack will aid him, but it isn't the most important stats for this coming year.
Would any Cardinals fan welcome 1700 rushing yards? Yes! The team hasn't done it since 2002. But the team's record that year was 5-11.
For Arizona to make the postseason, it will come down to more than that. Probably the most important stat is 16 -- if Palmer can play in all 16 games, that will be a a more indicative number to determine Arizona's shot at making the playoffs.