Not sure if anyone would have thought of this three weeks ago, but the Arizona Cardinals, with 10 weeks remaining in the season, can think big.
After winning three straight games, and claiming sole possession of first place in the NFC West division, the Cardinals have a good chance of finishing the season strong and claiming a first-round bye or home field advantage.
In Week Seven, Arizona claimed a 24-17 victory over the New York Giants on the road. It may be the team's biggest win of the season. It has set the table for Arizona to make a run through the remaining games of its schedule.
Arizona's next 10 opponents have a combined record of 21-42.
It's that bad. And it's that good for the Cardinals.
Over the next 10 weeks, Arizona will face two teams which are currently winless (St. Louis twice and Tennessee on the road). The Cardinals will face three more teams with two wins or less (The Carolina Panthers this week, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions).
Two of the Cardinals' three most difficult games will be at home. The Minnesota Vikings (6-1) travel to University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 13 and the Green Bay Packers visit for the season finale. Arizona do face the San Francisco 49ers on the road in Week 14.
A schedule which once looked rugged at the beginning of the year doesn't look so intimidating anymore. It's working out nicely for the Cardinals. Last week's win proved a lot. Once questioned about whether they were capable of beating a quality opponent, the Cardinals proved they're able. The defense forced Eli Manning into three interceptions, including a game-clinching steal by Antrelle Rolle. The offense played with poise and the running game was solid. The Cardinals, who historically haven't played well on the east coast, looked focused and unfazed by a hostile atmosphere.
Six weeks into the season,the Cardinals have found themselves with two things that can help them claim a bye: Confidence and a road not so difficult to travel. You can't beat that.