Oof, last week’s big home loss to the Panthers really took some sheen off the fantastic season we’ve been having, didn’t it? I liked our chances with or without Kyler, and I certainly didn’t expect us to get blown out. Just a perplexing performance.
Now 8-2 with the bye coming up next week, this week’s game in Seattle is looking like something of a fulcrum point for the rest of the season. Do we pull off a road win and head into the bye week feeling good? Or do we drop a second game in a row and deal with the fallout for two weeks? Oh, and who will start at QB?
Let’s ponder those questions today, starting with that last one.
Fulcrum point: Who will start at QB on Sunday?
Kyler Murray is reportedly “pretty close” to being able to return, which is obviously great news. Especially since backup Colt McCoy is dinged up as well. Third string is Chris Streveler—nice gadget player and solid depth, but not someone you can rely on to win you a critical game like this. (Cue several fans defending him in the comments, haha.)
And to be honest, I don’t even know if Colt McCoy can win this game either. I really think we need Kyler back, especially with our WR/OL injury issues and Russel Wilson back for Seattle. Not to mention that the Seahawks are playing for their season.
But the most interesting question, I think, is whether the Cardinals play Kyler if he’s less than 100%. We obviously want to win this game, but we don’t necessarily *need* to win this game like Seattle does. So we could play it cautious and hold Kyler out again—and likely lose. Or do we play him and risk him aggravating his ankle and putting future starts at risk? So far, the team has erred on the side of caution, which I agree with, but we can only rely on backups for so long before we lose the chance at a special season.
Fulcrum point: What happens if we win?
With a win in Seattle, we’d be 9-2 heading into the bye. We’d be in 1st place in the NFC West with a sterling 4-0 division record and a game and a half up on the Rams—plus we’d have all but ended Seattle’s season, which would just feel good. We could also be in 1st place in the NFC if the Packers lose a tough road game in Minnesota. They’d still have the tiebreaker, of course, but we’d be a game ahead of them, so we’d still have a great shot at homefield advantage.
That all sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Let’s hope Kyler is ready to rock this weekend, because as I said above, I don’t think we win this game without him.
Fulcrum point: What happens if we lose?
Buckle in, because this part is going to be a bummer. (Or as much of a bummer as possible for an 8-3 team.) With a loss, we’d still be in 1st place in the NFC West, but we’d be just a half-game ahead of the Rams, who will undoubtedly come out of their bye week ready to wreak havoc on the rest of the league. We’d still have the tiebreaker, but the division could come down to the Week 14 Monday Night Football rematch. A loss would also make it REALLY tough to win the #1 seed. We’d be well behind Green Bay, and we’d possibly fall behind Dallas as well (although we do play in Week 17). But both of those teams have only one conference loss, whereas this would be our third. Yikes.
This is what we’d be looking at if we drop this one. An 8-3 record would still be amazing, obviously, but a loss would leave the fanbase feeling deflated heading into the bye, and the national media stories would be brutal. I’m already dreading even just the possibility.
It seems to me that the fulcrum point of the season comes down to Kyler’s ankle—appropriate given that the ankle is the fulcrum of the foot. If the ankle is good to go, I think we win the game and cruise into the bye week feelin’ good. If it’s not, we limp back from Seattle to face two terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weeks.
But that’s just how I see it. How are you seeing things this week, Cardinals fans? Drop some knowledge in the comments.