GLENDALE, Ariz. — The playoffs are right around the corner and the Arizona Cardinals are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2015.
But how does the Red Sea truly feel about a deep playoff run?
All any NFL team needs is an opportunity, and that's exactly what the Cardinals have as the 5th seed in the NFC playoff picture. Arizona is gearing up for a matchup against their division rival in the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round Monday night.
Both teams split the regular-season series and will meet for the third time this year in what will be a road matchup for the Cards.
Ironically, that could be seen as a plus considering the Cardinals were 8-1 on the road this season compared to a measly 3-5 back home inside State Farm Stadium.
"We're very familiar with them and they are with us," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "It'll be a dogfight, and I don't think there is anyone sitting around worried about what happened in our season finale loss. The focus now is about moving forward."
We've sure heard that a lot this season, huh?
Same old story
It's been difficult to trust what this team can do in the second half of the season as the Cardinals officially became the first team in NFL history to start the season 7-0 to only lose 6 games after that mark.
"Luckily, we are 1-1 against this opponent," Kingsbury noted. "You've already put together two game plans, you're trying to get together a third to try to defeat them in all three phases and it's a tall task."
A tall task I believe the Cardinals will face and rise to the occasion.
Although, this doesn't come without some trepidation from the Red Sea. Frankly, the Cardinals weren't supposed to be in this position.
As the No. 1 seed was theirs for the taking only to lose the last four of five games to finish the regular season.
Yet here they are, with a clean slate headed into the postseason hopeful to make a run. It's something they haven't been able to do as of late.
"If you made the playoffs, you're going to be excited to be in that tournament and everybody is 0-0 and our guys understand that," Kingsbury said. "We're disappointed but we got to get it out of our system (and) come back because anything can happen once you make the postseason."
Take the good with the bad
So, there is some good news and bad news as the Cards-Rams Wild Card matchup looms.
The good: The Cardinals are nearly perfect on the road (8-1) and beat the Rams inside SoFi Stadium earlier this season.
The bad: history states only 10 Wild Card teams have advanced to the Super Bowl, and only six of those have been crowned as world champions.
Numbers don't lie and the injuries piling up for this team don't help either. Kingsbury is still unsure if James Conner (rib injury) will be ready to play Monday night along with DeAndre Hopkins who likely won't make a return until next year.
But like I mentioned, all the team needs is a chance to catch fire and make a deep run in the postseason. Kingsbury knows that, yet the focus relies solely on LA and nothing else.
"It's sudden death," Kingsbury said. "One and you're done if you don't get it done. That is our sole focus and we aren't worried about anything past Monday night."
The elephant in the room
Let's be honest about this team, shall we?
The Cardinals took the NFL by storm after starting the year 7-0 before faltering on the back end, and they haven't looked nearly as convincing since that point.
By definition, this team is limping into the playoffs which doesn't create any momentum inside that locker room.
Not to mention, this will be the first playoff appearance for both quarterback Kyler Murray and coach Kingsbury.
Are you concerned? Coach doesn't seem to be.
"You just embrace the challenge," Kingsbury said. "We've played some good football games, and teams and have worked our way to this point. It's now about taking that next step and embracing it."
Let's hope this year's team can embrace the special spirit that embodied the Cardinals back in 2008. The same team who remember, ran the gauntlet of a conference playoff schedule, starting as the NFC's fourth seed, winning three games before making an appearance in the Super Bowl.
Let's have some faith.
While the Cardinals might look vastly different compared to the team we saw in the first two months, we all know anything can happen in the postseason and that is what makes playoff football so great.
Watch more of the latest sports videos on the 12 News YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe!