Bruce Arians came to work on Monday, fresh off a controversial loss to the Eagles the day before, and told his players to put it behind them.
Normally, that’s easier said than done. There were some eyebrow-raising calls by officials in the last few minutes, and the defeat sent a blow to the Cardinals’ playoff chances.
Arians, though, had the trump card. Once he brought up the team’s woeful recent record against the NFC West, he had everyone’s attention.
The Cardinals are 0-for-their-past-8 against division opponents, with the most recent victory coming over the
“If we’re ever going to do anything,” Arians said, “we better start winning (within) our division.”
With four weeks remaining, the NFC West has proven to be the best division in football.
The teams have combined for a 31-17 record, including a 24-10 mark against opponents outside the division. The AFC West is next, with a 28-20 combined record and a 21-13 mark outside the division.
“To think, we’re sitting here fighting for wild card position and we haven’t won a division game in a year and almost a half,” wide receiver
The Rams are first on the docket, as the Cardinals look to improve to 6-1 at home on Sunday. These teams met in the season opener, and Arizona blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead in a 27-24 loss.
St. Louis is without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL on Oct. 20. Despite his absence, the Rams (5-7) have been a plucky squad. They’ve won two of their past three games and were one yard away from beating Seattle in Week 8.
“This is a huge game for both teams, and it’s especially big for us,” said quarterback
With games against Seattle and San Francisco looming in the final two weeks, it’s a treacherous path to the playoffs, as the Cardinals could need three or possibly four wins in their last four games to secure a wild card.
The team’s hopes will be pinned on its success against the NFC West the rest of the way, and the message has been like a broken record around the practice facility.
“Every time I read a paper or hear somebody talk: ‘It’s been awhile,’” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “Obviously, we want to get it done, get the monkey off our back.”
This scenario looks familiar to right tackle
“We were a pretty good team, too, but we only won one division game,” Winston said. “That’s the kind of team we can’t be. We can’t sit there at the end of the season and be 8-8 (or) 9-7 and be 1-5 in the division, or something like that, and say, ‘Man, if we would have won a couple more of those division games we would have been fine.’ This is our chance.”