By Danny Cox
With an NFC West crown and a 13-3 record, 2015 was a good year for the Arizona Cardinals. It was just an overall season that looked really great for the Cardinals and has them as one of the top contenders to win it all. They have a first-round bye due to nabbing the second seed in the NFC and now they know who they may face in the divisional round.
Regular season victories over two of the three teams is a good start, but the playoffs are a whole new season and an entirely different beast.
Minnesota Vikings (No. 3 seed, 11-5)
Somehow, some way, the Minnesota Vikings have managed an impressive 11-5 record and number three seed in the NFC. They don’t have the greatest passing game in the world and a second-year quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who doesn’t have a lot of experience.
What the Vikings do have is Adrian Peterson and a stout defense, which has shown to be more than enough to have them win games and do it impressively. Arizona did defeat the Vikings earlier this season, but it was just a three-point victory and a hard-fought one at that.
Washington Redskins (No. 4 seed, 9-7)
When Robert Griffin III went down with yet another injury, everyone thought the Redskins had another lost season on their hands. Now, they have rebuilt their offensive line into a big-time force and found a possible franchise quarterback in Kirk Cousins. Winning the NFC East doesn’t exactly make them Super Bowl contenders, but they could surprise a lot of people.
Green Bay Packers (No. 5 Seed, 10-6)
Just two weeks ago, the Cardinals decimated the Packers 38-8 in one of the worst losses of Aaron Rodgers’ professional career. Still, they are the Packers and he is Aaron Rodgers so there is always the probability that the spirit of Lambeau can come alive wherever they go. The running back combo of James Starks and Eddie Lacy is also going to be a concern for the Cardinals so they will need to watch the offensive backfield with many many eyes.
The Arizona Cardinals may benefit most by the extra week of rest, and it’s mostly so head coach Bruce Arians can figure out what happened to them in the season finale. Being blown out by the Seattle Seahawks (or any team) is not how you want to enter the postseason. Now, the Cardinals have a week to regroup, get their heads right, and get back to playing how they did throughout most of the season.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.