The Arizona Cardinals are still playoff contenders
The NFL is a league filled with ups and downs. The Arizona Cardinals are a team primed for a late-season boost into the playoffs. The Cardinals currently stand at 5-6-1, but a sudden burst could send them right into the playoffs. Arizona is coming off a 31-23 victory against the Washington Redskins, which many pundits called a “must-win” game.
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Head Coach Bruce Arians’ decision to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Arizona 34-yard line, with less than four minutes left, after the Redskins kicked a field goal which cut Arizona’s lead to 1 on the previous drive, gave the Cards a much needed boost heading into the end of the season. Star running back David Johnson pulled off a 14-yard run to get the first down and more, and six plays later Carson Palmer connected with JJ Nelson for a 42-yard touchdown.
“If our left side and tight ends can’t get a half-yard, the way we were running the ball, we didn’t deserve to win anyway,” Arians said during the post-game press conference.
While the Cardinals have been tearing up the field recently, the odds are strongly stacked against the Cardiac Cards. However, defenses around the league still have to figure out how to put a stop to Johnson. Dallas, Seattle and Detroit are expected to represent their divisions, while Tampa and Atlanta’s position in the NFL South will come down to the wire, as both teams are 7-5. The Giants can earn a wild-card berth but have to face the high-powered Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, as well as two road games against Philadelphia and Washington to close out the season.
Don’t blow off the Cardinals yet, Palmer had his best game in nearly three months against the Redskins. He managed to throw for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns and completed 30 passes. The Cardinals strong defense held the Redskins running game to 87 yards and only 18 carries.
The only roadblock to the playoffs is Patrick Peterson’s battle with a number of lower-body injuries, which could hold back his explosiveness as the season draws to a close. Arizona Cardinals star Safety Tyrann Mathieu has also faced injury after injury. Despite their .500 record, the Cardinals are still in the thick of the race.