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With playoffs, new season begins for Cardinals

It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own” declaring there’s no crying in baseball, but when Cardinals coach Bruce Arians stood at his podium Sunday afternoon deep inside Levi’s Stadium and said there wouldn’t be any moping on the team plane, he meant it.

While 20 teams will spend Monday cleaning out their lockers, the Arizona Cardinals will start preparing for their wild-card game against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday.

“The whole season is over,” Arians said. “It’s a whole new one. I told them I don’t want anyone moping on the plane. It’s 0-0 and we’re in the tournament.

“We’ve got some things to learn from. We’ve got a short week. We’ll be at the office Tuesday getting ready for this playoff game. We’re not planning on being one and done.”

The playoffs have been a lock for a couple of weeks, home-field advantage was all but eliminated last week and the details were finalized Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals will travel to Charlotte to play the NFC South champions who are 7-8-1 in the first playoff game of the weekend, Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET.

Arizona enters the playoffs after losing four of its last six, but the Cards aren’t letting their past influence their optimism for the future.

“Obviously we did limp into the playoffs the last five games,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “I believe that we were 2-3 or something like that.

“Now everybody is 0-0. It is a fresh season and a fresh start. We couldn’t wait to get out of that regular season and start this postseason. We wanted to win this game and go in with some momentum but at the same time, we have the chance to play again next Saturday. ”

In a case like this, the Cardinals’ youth can be a positive. Call it inexperience, call it naiveté, but it’s easier for those players who haven’t been to the postseason to forget about what just happened and focus on the future.

“It is about short-term memory right now,” second-year linebacker Kevin Minter said. “What we did before doesn’t matter anymore, win or lose. It is time to just kick it into another gear.

“This is my first time in the playoffs. I have heard it is a whole other beast.”