The Arizona Cardinals head into their game with our San Francisco 49ers sitting at 1-2, and tied for second in the NFC West. The Los Angeles Rams have jumped out to a 2-1 record, while the Seattle Seahawks are also 1-2. The division is not looking particularly great, which leaves the door open for almost anybody to claim the crown.
The Cardinals went to the NFC title game in 2015, but injuries and ineffectiveness led to some ugly regression in 2016, when they finished 7-8-1. This year, they are struggling out of the gate. As Revenge of the Birds site manager Seth Cox mentioned earlier today, their big problem has been in the second half. In their two losses to Detroit and Dallas, Arizona went into the fourth quarter either tied or in the lead. Their one win, over Indianapolis, came thanks to a fourth quarter comeback and overtime win. It’s been a slog for Arizona.
In chatting with Seth this week, I wanted to see what his expectations were at the beginning of the year, and where they stand now. It is not surprising that Cardinals fans retain some optimism given how awful the NFC West is.
The expectations were a team that would compete for the division. Through no good of their own, that is still the expectation. As you said, the division is not good right now. The Rams look like the class of the NFC West, and that is tough to believe will stay that way. At least until they do it.
That means the expectation is for the Cardinals to hover around .500 until they get David Johnson back and then, hopefully they can take advantage. If they are able to be at or near that .500 mark when Johnson comes back in November, or heaven forbid, December, they have a real shot. If the Seahawks find their offensive legs or the Rams are a legit team, or the Niners figure out how to play a complete game on both sides of the ball, then that dream is over. However, I don't see any of those things happening in 2017.
The 49ers currently sit at 0-3, bringing up the rear in the division. They missed two huge opportunities for divisional wins the past two weeks. A win over Arizona would keep them no worse than two games back of the Rams, pending the outcome of their game against Dallas.
I’m not trying to offer some sense of hope for winning the division, but it’s at least interesting to see how this division is shaping up. I came into this season with low expectations on the win total, and am not getting my hopes up at this point. But if the 49ers can go into Arizona and steal a win, and then hang around heading into their bye week, maybe then I’ll bump my hopes up modestly.