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Cardinals still 'optimistic' they can make playoffs despite long odds

ATLANTA -- Their 4-6-1 record and their standing in the NFC aside, the Arizona Cardinals still believe the playoffs are a possibility.

“(We’re) still in it,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “I’m optimistic as ever. I don’t look at this and say, ‘Oh, man.’ You look at this and you find a way to right the wrong, what you’ve done wrong.

“We got an NFC team coming into us that’s fighting for a wild-card spot. We’re fighting for a wild-card spot. That’s all that matters is next week’s game.”

Arizona’s opponent Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, Washington, is fighting to stay in the wild-card race. The Redskins occupy the sixth seed -- which is the last spot in the wild-card race. The Cardinals are the 11th seed in the NFC with one more game -- Philadelphia-Green Bay, remaining this week.

A common refrain after Sunday’s 38-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, who own the fourth seed in the NFC, was that nine wins could get them into the playoffs. To get to nine wins from their 4-6-1 mark would mean Arizona would have to win out.

“If we want to be where we want to be at the end of the season, in the playoffs, we hope nine can get us in,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “Now we just have to win out. Now we just have to let the rest take care of itself.”

The math, however, might say otherwise.

Arizona has a 4.3 percent chance of winning out, according to the ESPN NFL Football Power Index, and a 6.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. But if the Cardinals’ odds are above zero, then there is, theoretically, that chance.

The Cardinals are still second in the NFC West behind the 7-3-1 Seattle Seahawks. The Los Angeles Rams are third at 4-7. The Cardinals play both teams in Week 16 and 17, respectively.

“Still a lot of games to be played, man,” linebacker Kevin Minter said. “The way the division is going, we could get in this thing with nine wins, but we got to fix something. We got to figure this out.”