The NFC West might just be the best division, which sounds good until you find yourself in last place.
But the Cardinals, coming off their bye week as they head into Sunday’s home game against the Rams, feel like more than just a 3-7-1 team preparing to play their final five games of the season. That’s in large part because of quarterback Kyler Murray, and the offensive ingenuity of coach Kliff Kingsbury.
It’s also in part to two close losses to the 49ers among their most recent three games, and the knowledge that with three NFC West games remaining – two against the Rams – how the Cardinals finish will provide a prism through which the team will be viewed compared to their divisional brethren.
“Really, we measure ourselves against any team,” safety Budda Baker said. “But that’s our division.
“I feel like we have one of the best divisions in the league. The Seahawks are always good, the Rams are good as well and the 49ers, they had been down and now they are best in the conference. Now we, as the Cardinals, have to take that extra step.”
The NFL isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades, and making the 49ers sweat a couple of games doesn’t mean much in the big picture. The Cardinals were also handled fairly easily by the Seahawks in their early-season meeting.
Yet the Cardinals did play the 49ers – who reside atop of the NFC with a 10-1 record – better than most, and quarterback Kyler Murray is the only QB to post a 100-plus passer rating against them. And he did it twice.