The Cardinals first, second-half test is a colossal one. Division foe aside, the importance of Sunday's game is not so much about the opponent, but more about the timing. The Cardinals can't afford to lose Sunday's statement-making contest against the Seattle Seahawks who followed their Week 7 win against the Cardinals with back-to-back losses.
A win for the Cardinals on Sunday could set the tone for a remarkably manageable schedule. On paper, the Kansas City Chiefs are the Cardinals biggest test in their final games.
In Week 11, Ken Whisenhunt's drastically different Cardinals face former offensive coordinator Todd Haley's 5-3, AFC West-leading Chiefs. The Cardinals could struggle against Haley's offensive antics. Of their similar opponents, the Chargers blew out the Cardinals, while the Chiefs defeated their division sharer. Both teams fell to the recharged Oakland Raiders.
The Cardinals hope to avoid a similar fate against the Raiders' bay-area neighbors. The Cardinals face the NFC West last-place San Francisco 49ers for the first time in Week 12. Both squads have major primping to do before their date, but the possibility that this game could still have playoff implications is not totally out of the question in a division where the top-two teams sit at .500.
The Cardinals continue on their NFC West journey the following week, at home. The St. Louis Rams are sitting modestly at 4-4 and leading the shaky division.
Games against the dreary Denver Broncos, the even gloomier Carolina Panthers and the equally bleak Dallas Cowboys round out the Cardinals schedule before capping the season with a match against the 49ers.
A successful second half could absolutely be in the cards.
Until then, enjoy the extra elbowroom on the continually roomier bandwagon.
Amberly Dressler is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and is a longtime contributor to the Scout.com network.
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