The Arizona Cardinals’ sluggish start to the season did not seem worth panicking over. But, ten weeks into the season, should fans now be concerned?
Although the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, 23-20, it just didn’t feel right.
A win is a win, and they’ll gladly take it heading into the last seven weeks of the season. But, still, it just felt off. And why is that?
Maybe because it took the Cardinals all the way until the final play of the game to beat the Niners, who entered Sunday with a 1-7 record. Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 34-yard field goal to win it, and down went San Francisco. The final outcome wasn’t surprising but the way it happened was.
Do we really need to be surprised anymore?
It says a lot about Bruce Arians’ team if they just manage to squeak out a win over one of the worst teams in the National Football League. And maybe we got a glimpse of who the 2016 Cardinals actually are in losses like Week 1 against the Patriots, Week 4 versus the Rams, and the Week 7 tie with the Seahawks. Despite the outcomes, it was shrugged off because it was so early in the season.
They’ll make it up, we told ourselves. It’s too early in the season to worry.
But now, we should be worried. The Cardinals are 4-4-1 with just seven games to play. The past success the team has enjoyed has allowed fans to dismiss the sloppy record and poor play. This team was poised for a Super Bowl run heading into the new season, especially after last year’s appearance in the NFC Championship game.
Their schedule doesn’t do them any favors, either. Their next four contests come against teams above the .500 mark (Vikings, Falcons, Redskins, and Dolphins). The Cardinals will meet the Seahawks again in Seattle in Week 16. The Seahawks currently hold a two-game advantage in their NFC West division.
A third straight season in which a playoff berth is clinched just feels so unlikely right now. The best they could end at would be 11-4-1, and asking for a finish like this isn’t even practical. Not only that, but a 10-6 record in 2013 wasn’t good enough to make the postseason. Two losses over their final seven games would make a playoff-run almost impossible, especially with the way Seattle is playing.
Their sluggish start to the 2016 season was surprising, but not something to stress over. After all, it was the Cardinals we were talking about. Of course they’ll turn it around.
That turn-around has yet to happen. It’s clear that the Arizona Cardinals are a mediocre team after ten weeks of play. Maybe we knew this all along, too, but we were too stubborn to admit it.