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Eight games, the schedule and the postseason

Posted by Darren Urban on November 7, 2013 – 10:06 am

The term “must-win” is thrown around often in sports, probably too much. It’s not a term coaches and players like to embrace, for the simple reality that most of the time, “must-win” is used in context of the assumption there are other games that team probably will not win. Such is the narrative with the Cardinals right now, at 4-4 and knowing three of their final five games are on the road and the last two are against Seattle (there) and San Francisco (here).

It would seem to make Sunday’s home game against the 2-6 Texans crucial if the Cardinals want to make the playoffs. Not that coach Bruce Arians is buying it. “There are so many things that could happen,” Arians said. “To say if we lose this game we can’t go to the playoffs? No. That’s ridiculous. There are way too many more games. I think if you lose this one, and you went 11-5, I think you’d make it. This is not an end-all be-all.”

Here’s what the Cardinals are up against: A 9-7 record is going to be right on the fringe of being playoff-worthy. Even 10-6 might be on the cusp. To go 9-7, the Cards still have to win five of eight the rest of the way. The schedule features three teams that seem to be pretty sure bets for the postseason, with home games against the Colts (Nov. 24) and 49ers (Dec. 29 to close the season) and a road trip to Seattle (Dec. 22). Of the other five opponents, only Tennessee — where the Cards must visit — are at least .500, and the Titans have the same record as the Cards.

The Texans’ game is different in so many ways. The stats scream they should be better — Houston has the top-ranked defense and the eight-ranked offense — than 2-6. “How they are 2-6 is beyond me,” Arians said. But they are without their head coach and playcaller, and they pushed a lot of chips in on the table needing last week’s win against the Colts, which they could not finish. Now they have to come to University of Phoenix Stadium.

This gauntlet was always looking like an important stretch, with struggling Atlanta, struggling Houston and struggling Jacksonville. No, it’s not must-win. But the climb gets a whole lot harder without victories.


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Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »


14 Responses to “Eight games, the schedule and the postseason”

  1. By Nick Pepe on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    Back in August, I think anyone with realistic expectations would have taken 4-4 heading into the bye week.

    This team has a legitimate shot at the post season. Hopefully the week off gave them the opportunity to work out some kinks in the passing game and the O gets going early and often.

    I know this years 4-4 feels a whole lot better than the reeling 4-4 we were at last year.

    Looking forward to their trip to my neck of the woods on Dec 1st. Wife and I might have to catch up with a certain someone and have a grog or two. Worked for the win last time!

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member

  2. By George on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    @ Nick Pepe,

    I agree with you Nick. The bye week could not have come at a better time for this team. I believe there is an opportunity for a strong second half and a push for the playoffs. I am hopeful that the offense has a better understanding of Arians system and can cut down the mistakes. Fitzgerald’s hamstring should be better. It will come down to better protection by the offensive line and Palmer cutting down the interceptions. Go Cards!!!

  3. By Ken Purtell on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    We will be at the Jacksonville game cheering the Cards on. Let’s go Cardinals to the playoffs

  4. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    Not “must” but “gotta” ;). We’ll see what we got Sunday. No excuses, No “we were sluggish due to the break” yada yada yada. Line up, hit, win the line of scrimmage, protect the ball and we win… but no excuses vs. 2-6 Texans.

  5. By John A. on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    It would be crazy to say but if the Cardinals win two of 3 division games and beat the other non-divisional games. 11-5 could get the Cardinals as the number 5 seed in the playoffs.

  6. By clssylssy on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    With the softest part of our schedule behind us, every game is a “must win” from here on out whether BA likes it or not. It is one thing to be enthusiastic and positive as long as we don’t fall victim to our own arrogance and looking at the way we played early on, we are lucky to be sitting at 4-4; at this point it’s important to keep our head and a margin of humility and desire for improvement. The Cards played better against Atlanta, than they have as an entire team to date, but, the Falcons were not the Seahawks, the 9ers, Colts, or even the Titans, and Carson Palmer is not Nick Foles, although he is pulling it together and is, at the least, durable with the maturity to keep his composure, for the most part. Wade Phillips is experienced and proven winner of a Coach, and is as capable of stepping in for Coach Kubiak as BA was for Coach Pagano; if anything the players are going to be more driven than ever to win one for their Coach, and they have the talent to do just that. From here on out, I think every game is going to be a dogfight with nothing to be taken for granted. Realistically, I think everyone knows there are certain games on the remaining schedule that we won’t win but we can still give a good fight. Las Vegas has the Cards a slight favorite for Sunday’s game but it is VERY slight and in part due to home field advantage. We are starting to get some respect for our defense and running game but we can’t afford to make costly mistakes. Great group of guys who have the talent if they can keep focus. Proud of my Cards for being such a class group of men who know what teamwork and brotherhood is! GO CARDS! We’re moving into THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!

  7. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    PS: Agree with darren, guessing 9-7 won’t get it. Need 10 looks like.

  8. By Bj on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    My Brother and I who is a Texans fan have been waiting 4 years for this game. The last 1 was wild with a beautiful DRC pick six to win the game for AZ,Hope we see another memorable finish and a Cards W.

  9. By Brett n Co. on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    Being at the Texans and Colts game last Sunday night, the Texans came out swinging and looked like a playoff team, their defense is very stout, their offense looked amazing in the first half but fell apart in the second. Watching that game in person our Cardinals need to play a full 60 minutes against both teams when they play them. One thing the our defense needs to do is to make sure someone stays home when they run the bootleg that killed the colts in the first half. Our offense needs to be quick, smart, and decisive.

  10. By mal on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    Darren – a little different perspective on the big picture:

    It’s most likely going to take 10-6 to get into the playoffs this year.

    But I’ll be happy if we can just get to our final 2 games (Seatle+SF) and still have them mean something.

    Even if we enter the final 2 games with an 8-6 record (needing to win out to get to the playoffs) I would still consider this season to be a success, especially after last year.

    So let’s just go (at least) 4-2 over these next 6 games, and then make those last 2 games really exciting.

  11. By georgiebird on Nov 7, 2013 | Reply

    As I stated, the Falcons game would be the biggest game of the year. No other game we play this year will have the overall impact of the Falcons game.
    All the euphoria we now see on this blog is the result of winning the Falcons’ game and going 4-4 before the bye. If we had lost to the disappointing Falcons and gone to 3-5, the whole mood on this site and on the team would be a 180 from where it is today.
    The next eight games are all important in their own way but, make no mistake about it, the Falcons’ game was the most important game of the year.

  12. By clssylssy on Nov 8, 2013 | Reply

    I remember the last time we played the Texans at UofP Stadium and how impressed I was with their power and ability to keep the pressure on, making it one of the most exciting games of the year. At that time, I don’t think a lot of fans expected so much from them and while they have had a slow start, I still see the toughness in this team, to make this a real dogfight to the end. Case Keenum, while young is amazing for a backup and has not thrown one interception while piling up over 600 yards in the time he has been under center BUT, he hasn’t met our defense or our secondary who, I think can keep him pinnned and rattled enough to take the fight out. The Texans have showed that they rely on their QB and sort of fall apart when the QB is out of the equation as happened early in the season with Schaub but they are going to be hungry for a win and so we’ll have to come out strong and then keep the pressure on them for an entire sixty minutes. I don’t get the feeling that our running game has even been considered a factor or that the Cards are using our talented WR to block is being noticed; a lot of incorrect assumptions about the Cards game to our advantage! I love our defense and secondary and the aggressiveness and unpredictability of guys like Tyrann Mathieu and Daryl Washington. Like Atlanta, the Texans are loaded with talent but have fallen victim to the injury bug and their record doesn’t accurately reflect their ability (like ours) and the oddsmakers has us with a very slight edge. We need to keep the momentum going into this final half of our schedule and play llike contenders. COUNTING DOWN TO A VICTORY ON SUNDAY! GO CARDS!

  13. By Dr. G. on Nov 8, 2013 | Reply

    Based on reasonable history, I am reiterating a previous post of 10-6 “might” be good enough to be a Wild Card. If we lose this Sunday, we are looking at going 6-1 to get there!! And that may not get it done. If we win, we still need to go 5-2 to get there…maybe. The recent playoff history in the NFC not favorable to mediocrity.

    As I said a month ago, if 9-7 gets there I will eat my sombrero. I’m still lovin’ the improvement though.

    One thing I am relying on is this: the Texans have an excellent defense; I just hope they think our defense is a pushover! The over/under for this game could be very low, like 21 points if the prognosticators are correct, of which I am one.

    Darren, I would like to hear your Over/Under on this one…. Be well…..

  14. By Dr. G. on Nov 8, 2013 | Reply

    …. The playoff dialogue is always exciting and interesting. But, here is the reality for the fan paying serious coin to go to a game: regardless of record, every team should take to the field with their best effort for those deserving fans. I love upsets at seasons end.

    Every game should be played as if it is the only one. It is however, obvious in the latter stages of any pro sport season that coaches will start doggin’ it and playing the second string to protect from injuries, but they would never do it for a more favorable draft…!!! If we make it this year, stupendous! If not, I want to see good games with good effort every time….

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