NFL Arizona Cardinals

5 Reasons Why Arizona Cardinals Are Pretenders

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5 Reasons Why The Arizona Cardinals Are Pretenders

5 Reasons Why The Arizona Cardinals Are Pretenders
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals have stunned the rest of the league with the way they've forced their way into the playoff picture the last few weeks. After a typically mediocre 3-4 start to the season, the Cardinals have ripped off four straight wins and now find themselves in the driver’s seat for the NFC Wild Card. Things are looking up for them, but this Cardinals team is more pretender than contender.

The Cardinals' recent success has been built on wins that look impressive on the surface, but there are holes in their game that become apparent if you dig deeper. The offense has been humming under new quarterback Carson Palmer, but those points have not been as impressive as they seem. The defense has been disruptive as well, but that all has to be taken into the context of who they were playing.

The fans in Arizona have been waiting patiently for their team to get back to the championship-contending level they were at just a few years ago. But, much like that Super Bowl run, this Cardinals team is riding momentum more than they’re riding a team built to last.

In the end, this Cardinals team was destined to be frisky, but not really a true playoff team. They’re stuck in NFL purgatory, not bad enough to qualify for a top pick in the next draft but not good enough to make the playoffs. They’ve shown that they have a bright future, especially if they can find a long-term solution to their quarterback problem, but they aren’t ready to be contenders just yet.

These are the five reasons why the Arizona Cardinals are pretenders this season.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. They Can't Run The Ball

Run The Ball
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

You may not need to run the ball to win championships anymore, but you have to at least make teams respect your running game. The Cardinals are ranked 24th overall in rushing, and that isn't going to cut it down the stretch.

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4. They've Beaten Bad Teams

Bad Teams
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Of the Cardinals' seven wins, only three of them came against teams with a winning record. Those wins were against a barely over .500 Detroit Lions team, a pre-winning streak Carolina Panthers and the suddenly-vulnerable Indianapolis Colts. Things get much tougher for them from now on.

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3. They Finish With A Brutal Schedule

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Things do, in fact, get much tougher from here for Arizona. In their final five games, they play four teams in the playoff picture, and the fifth is the surging St. Louis Rams.

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2. They Won't Win Their Division

NFC West
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The easiest way for an average team to find its way into the playoffs is to win an easy division. It's too bad for the Cardinals that they play in the NFC West, one of the toughest divisions in the league.

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1. Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Palmer has been playing well of late, but he doesn't have enough to lead the Cardinals to the playoffs. At some point in the next few weeks, the wear and tear on his body will be too much for the aging quarterback.