Arizona Cardinals Need Help To Improve Playoff Seeding


Heading into last night’s game, the Arizona Cardinals controlled their destiny against the Seattle Seahawks. A win would have clinched the division, plus home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Instead, Ryan Lindley played like a third string quarterback, and the defense lost hope after it was evident that Lindley couldn’t produce or sustain a drive. The Cardinals, as of now, look like they might have to win three road playoff games to accomplish the feat of being the first team to play the Super Bowl at its home stadium.

Sep 21, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) leaves the field after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals won 23-14. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

All hope is not lost for the Cardinals, though. The Seahawks technically haven’t clinched the division or home field yet, even though they occupy the #1 spot.

The Cardinals are still very alive for the division. A win over the San Francisco 49ers on the road, plus a Seahawks loss to the St. Louis Rams at home would clinch the division for Arizona. The 49ers are only 3-4 at home and have lost four straight games. Meanwhile, the Rams, with a win over Seattle, would finish with seven wins for the third straight season under Jeff Fisher.

The Rams play particularly tough against division opponents. They beat the Seahawks earlier in the season at home 28-26. They also beat the 49ers on the road, they were in both games against Arizona in the fourth quarter and played competitively at home against the 49ers before a game-sealing pick-six.

Using ESPN’s playoff machine, if Arizona beats San Francisco and St. Louis beats Seattle, the Detroit Lions/Green Bay Packers game would become pivotal for who possesses home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

A Lions win over Green Bay, plus Arizona winning the NFC West would mean that the Cardinals would own home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A Packers win, plus Arizona winning the NFC West, would mean that the Packers would own home field advantage throughout the playoffs for having a better record against conference opponents than Arizona. That would mean that the Cardinals would get a bye and own the #2 seed in the playoffs.

As of now, even with this latest loss, head coach Bruce Arians remains optimistic.

It’s not the end of the world for us,” Arians said. “Obviously, we’d like to have the easy way (to the Super Bowl). But a lot of teams have gone on the road and done what we want to do.”

Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) against the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Some Cardinals players, like defensive end Frostee Rucker, are using this rout to a division rival on national TV as motivation.

“Have no choice,” Rucker said via Darren Urban. “That’s part of ball. We’ve got to move on. This is going to be in the back of our head. Lost two to (the Seahawks) this year, and hopefully we can get them back in the playoffs and square up one more time.”

The good news for Arizona is that there still is a possibility that quarterback Drew Stanton could be back in time against the 49ers, since he was limited in practice last week and was a game-time decision against Seattle to be the #2 quarterback.

Arizona is very much alive, and if Stanton is not ready for San Francisco, it now looks like Arizona will turn to rookie quarterback Logan Thomas, according to Urban.

No matter what happens against the 49ers, all eyes will be on the Rams/Seahawks game, which will be played at the same time as the Cardinals/49ers game. Will it be a chance for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to stick it one last time to his rival Pete Carroll by intentionally losing this game? Arizona can only hope so.