Not too early for Cards to think playoffs

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers is more than a rivalry that’s been brewing for years.

It’s an NFC West duel that, even in Week 6, can have playoff implications. And it’s never too early, especially in football, to start thinking about the postseason.

“This is not baseball. You don’t got a 160-game season,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “This is 16 games. Every single game is imperative to put yourself in position down the road. You got to take care of these kind of games.”

By “these,” Fitzgerald was referring to road games. The Cardinals’ goal is to win all eight at home and a few on the road.

Arizona is tied with San Francisco for second place in the NFC West at 3-2 but is 0-1 in the division. A win Sunday and one of two things can happen: The Cardinals can move into a tie for first place if Seattle loses or take sole possession of second.

“Our goal is to win the West,” center Lyle Sendlein said. “The way to win your division is by beating the previous year’s champ. So we’re obviously thinking about our goals as a unit right now. Knowing that there’s three other teams in our division that stand in the way of us accomplishing that goal, I guess that by us having our goals of winning the West, I guess you could say it is thinking of playoffs.”

Sendlein said he keeps track of how his division foes are faring throughout the season.

The Cardinals have lost seven of their past eight to the Niners and are 5-15 in Candlestick Park. But Arizona hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2009 and the faithful – inside and outside the locker room – are starting to get restless.

But the road to the NFC West title goes through San Francisco, which is the two-time defending champ.

“This is the game we got to go out and play well,” Fitzgerald said. “This is the best in our conference.”