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NFL Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals are Favorites in Competitive NFC Wild Card Race

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday afternoon, the Arizona Cardinals beat down the Indianapolis Colts 40-11, earning their fourth-straight victory to move to 7-4. The Colts are the third team with a winning record the Cardinals have taken down, and the sixth they’ve played altogether. Arizona has navigated a tough schedule to get to where they are now, and should be both feared and respected more than they are at this point.

Though Andy Reid is probably the front-runner as of now, Bruce Arians should get heavy consideration for his second NFL Coach of the Year award in a row. In his first year with the team, Arians has the Cardinals running on all cylinders at midseason after an ugly 2012 that saw the team finish 5-11. The laughably bad offense from last season is starting to come together, and Carson Palmer has been the big difference.

After a tough start, Palmer has come alive during the team’s four-game winning streak, completing 69 percent of his passes for 1,146 yards, with eight TDs and two INTs. A solid defense that came into Sunday’s game ranked seventh in total defense and eighth in points allowed now has some help on the other side of the ball.

The Cards still have some tough games left starting next week on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles and ending the final two weeks of the season versus the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, but the good news is that they control their own destiny. They have the tie-breaker on the 8-3 Carolina Panthers, who still have to play the New Orleans Saints twice, and they have the opportunity to knock the Eagles and 49ers down themselves.

Arizona is red-hot and gaining chemistry every week. They have been tested with a tough schedule and are an extremely well-coached team. Despite some tough challenges ahead, it would not be wise to bet against this team.

Aaron Charles is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @aaroncharleskc or add him to your network on Google