Our Playoff Game

There’s nothing to see here, people.  Move along.  All that’s left is one final road trip to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in the last game of the regular season.  The only affect the outcome of this game will have on Arizona is where they draft in 2018.  Win or lose, the Cardinals’ pick will still rest outside the top 10.  It’s almost as if the forces that be came together to see what they could do to make the season even more disappointing.  Oh well, there’s always next year right?

“Oh, there is just one more thing, lieutenant!”  Should the Cardinals beat Seattle this Sunday, the Seahawks will also miss the playoffs.  For many bitter Cardinal fans, watching the Seahawks miss the playoffs at the talons (we’d like to think) of the Cardinals, is almost as good as making the playoffs themselves. Make no mistake about it, this is a playoff game.

If Arizona wants to beat Seattle, they’ll need to do it with yet another starter being lost to IR.  Safety, Antoine Bethea, who is tied for fifth in the NFL with interceptions (5), tore his pectoral muscle against the Giants and will miss the final game of the regular season.  While it is certainly a big loss to the Cardinals defense, another injury isn’t out of the norm.  In fact, the Red Sea is almost numb to it.  “It’s easy when you get the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth injuries,” head coach, Bruce Arians said. “It’s really hard when you get the first four. It’s like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ It’s doom and gloom around the team for a week or so. Now it’s just, ‘OK, who is it this week?’ You pick up the pieces and you go.” Harlan Miller (S) was promoted from the practice squad a few weeks ago and will likely see playing time in Bethea’s absence.

If a potential playoff berth wasn’t enough to motivate Seattle heading in to the final week, Cardinals’ HC Bruce Arians certainly changed that. “We know that’s our home field,” Arians told his players, via azcentral.com. “We’re going up there and kick their...”, you get the point.  Arians seemed a bit irked that his comments got out but he isn’t the type to backpedal.  “Things that you say to your team in your locker room are supposed to be in your locker room,” Arians told reporters on Wednesday. “But it got out. I said it, so . . . we have won three times in a row up there.”  Technically, Arizona has won back to back games up there, but they are 3-1 in Seattle during Arians’ tenure.  On the flip side, Arians has never beat the Seahawks at home.  When Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was asked about Arians’ comments, he opted for the high road.  “I don’t think you pay attention to it too much,” Wilson said. “I think for us, we just want to play a great football game. We want to play a great football game and we know it’s going to be a tough challenge. We’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re ready to play some ball.”  Russell has always been a class act, but we’re not buying it.  Arians’ comments coupled with the replaying gif of Drew Stanton’s sideline dance in Seattle just two years ago will do anything but quell Pete Carroll’s urge to run up the score.  Remember, 58-0?

Maybe Arians’ comments were intended to ignite one last firefight among bitter rivals.  Not that the teams won’t still be rivals next year, but things may look quite different.  Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and Bruce Arians could all opt for retirement.  Seattle appears to let players such as Jimmy Graham and Sheldon Richardson test free agency.  Injuries to highly paid Seahawk stars like Richard Sherman (CB) and Kam Chancellor (S) do anything but secure roster spots for them next season.  Michael Bennet (DE) is fully aware that he may become a cap casualty as well.  “I think things are going to be different,” he said recently when asked about the future of Seattle’s defense beyond the 2017 season. “That’s a part of the NFL. The NFL is a transitional sport and transitional teams. Every year, there’s a new transition and new guys and new coaches and new staffs. It’s about who can win and how fast they can win, and it’s about ‘can we get a guy cheaper than the guy in front of him?’ This is bound to happen and everything has a shelf life, and us as players, we have shelf lives and our team together has a shelf life.”  From the outside looking in, it doesn’t appear that the locker room is all that healthy either.  Richard Sherman has called out coaches numerous times in recent years and just last week Earl Thomas III asked the Cowboys to “come get him”, all while escorting Dallas back to their locker room.  Thomas “thought” about retirement after an injury just a year ago and has butted heads with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner in recent weeks.  Will management decide to pull the plug and clean house?  Could rebuilding result in the NFL’s oldest coach (Pete Carroll) opting for retirement?  Only time will tell.

The only thing that’s clear is the Cardinals and Seahawks will play this Sunday. For now, nothing else matters.  Kickoff is scheduled for 2:25pm (MT).

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