Raise your hand if you had the Arizona Cardinals at 8-5 and in playoff contention come week 15.
If you’re anything other than a Cardinals fan, your hand probably shouldn’t be up if you’re being honest. A horrendous offensive line, for the most part, and little to no running game prior to this year were two big reasons why I had Arizona going no where. Another reason is exactly what I sit here talking about today: Carson Palmer.
Never being good enough to be called “elite,” Palmer is on the tail end of his career and way past his best football — or so we may have thought. He’ll throw his share of interceptions and have a few turnovers that have you shaking your head, but Palmer can deliver the football still on a rope.
Over the course of his last six games, his passer rating has been above 110 four times. The other two games have ended with ratings of 85.6 and 93.4. Prior to this run, Palmer’s best passer rating was a 79.3 he ended with in his very first game of the season. The roll Palmer has been on is the sole reason these Cardinals are fighting for their playoff lives and have a legitimate chance to make some noise.
Coupled with a defense that can shut down the run (ranked 3rd in the league) as well as the pass (ranked 12th), Palmer may be the guy to lead Arizona to the postseason after all. But, to do it, he’ll have to likely win two of his last three games — if not all three — which come at the likes of the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. All of these teams have a top-11 pass defense.
The chances aren’t great, but Palmer can get his team in if he can beat those three teams and if the Niners lose two of their last three. Nothing is mathematically over just yet for Arizona, so Palmer will have to be at his best for the math to continue to work up until week 17′s closure.