TEMPE, Ariz. -- If Sunday's victory at San Francisco was as close to a must-win as the Arizona Cardinals have faced this season, then Thursday night could end up being even more important.
A victory over the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium would put the Cardinals into a tie for second place in the NFC West at 5-4 and give them the current tiebreaker over their West nemesis. They’ll still be two games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Rams, but with seven games left, including two more NFC West games -- one each against Seattle and L.A. -- the Cardinals would be in a position to make a run at the division title.
“It’s huge,” defensive tackle Corey Peters said. “Not just because of the division implications, but we’re 4-4 and we’ve been kind of hot and cold; win, lose; lose, win. So just for us to try to string some things together regardless of opponent, it’s just huge and we’ve got high expectations in this locker room.
“We’re expecting playoffs and a push there. We’re going to have to start now, trying to string some games together. Seattle is a great place to get started.”
However, the Cardinals haven’t beaten the Seahawks at home under coach Bruce Arians.
They’re 0-3-1 against Seattle at University of Phoenix Stadium since 2013, but they’re 3-1 in Seattle.
It’s “a yo-yo back and forth,” Arians said.
Thursday will also be a chance for the Cardinals to assess themselves at just about the midway point of the season, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.
“For us to be an elite team, we have to beat elite football teams,” Fitzgerald said, “and Seattle’s that.”
Arizona has adopted a next-game-up mentality. There’s a lot of talk in the locker room about being 1-0 this week and then 1-0 next week. "Stacking wins," is what safety Antoine Bethea called it. The more wins, the more confidence, Arians said.
And after getting blown out three weeks ago by the Rams in what Peters called “the London fiasco,” Arizona can use all the confidence it can get.
The Cardinals are currently 12th in the NFC heading into Thursday night’s game. A win could propel them within a few spots of the wild card. And despite the mottos and coach-speak about taking the season one game at a time, the Cardinals are keeping their eye on the standings.
“But at the end of the day, you can only control what you can control,” Bethea said. “That’s what your team plays. We obviously know what’s going on in our division, in the NFC, whatever the case may be. We got to take care of business here.”
But as Arians pointed out, a win is worth just one game in the standings. So by the time the Cardinals go to bed Thursday night, they’ll either be in 5-4 or 4-5. The difference between those two records will have an impact on the rest of the season.
“It’s a big game,” Arians said. “It’s a division game. When you start stacking wins, the confidence starts building. We need to do that.”