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Arizona Cardinals: Can Adrian Peterson run the Cards into the playoffs?

The veteran running back is back to his dominating ways in Arizona. But can the team ride him all the way into the postseason?

Arizona beat the 49ers Sunday 20-10, to improve their record to 4-4 on the season. Adrian Peterson proved he’s still more than capable of carrying the load for a team, carrying the ball a career-high 37 times and rushing for 159 yards in the win. Peterson has rushed for over 100 yards in two of his first three games with his new team, rejuvenating both his career and the Cardinals’ season. Without Carson Palmer, the Cardinals will rely on Peterson in the last half of the season to help them make a playoff push, but how conceivable is a playoff berth for the Cardinals this season?

Haven’t proved a thing

The Cardinals may be 4-4, but their wins have come against some of the league’s worst teams. Arizona has wins against the Colts (3-6), the Buccaneers (2-6), and two against San Francisco (0-9). When the Cardinals have faced off against quality opponents, it’s been a different story; they were routed by the Rams and Eagles and lost comfortably to the Lions and Cowboys. 

Losing Carson Palmer and David Johnson has taken its toll on this team. The offense has been bad, ranking 26th overall this year; the poor offensive play has led to a tired defense getting exposed, resulting in the Cardinals defense ranking 27th overall. So how can a team with the 26th ranked offense and the 27th ranked defense expect to make the postseason? 

Arizona’s running game in particular, was struggling before Adrian Peterson came to town. Without a reliable backup to David Johnson, the Cardinals’ rushing attack was the worst in the NFL before they traded for Peterson. Even after two spectacular performances from their new back, the Cardinals still rank 31st at 76.4 rushing yards per game, hopefully that will continue to rise as the season rolls on.

Looking ahead

Cardinals Remaining Games
Week 10vs Seahawks
Week 11at Texans
Week 12vs Jaguars
Week 13vs Rams 
Week 14vs Titans
Week 15at Redskins
Week 16vs Giants
Week 17at Seahawks

It will be an uphill battle if the Cardinals are going to make a run at the playoffs. Not only are they in an NFC West division that seems to have two playoff teams already, in the Seahawks and Rams, but they also have a tough schedule to end their season. Of Arizona’s last eight games, they may only be favored in one, coming in Week 16 at home versus the Giants. 

The good news for the Cardinals is that Adrian Peterson can have a field day against this schedule. The Giants, Rams, and Jaguars all rank in the bottom-third at stopping the run; the Redskins and Seahawks aren’t much better at 15th and 16th; only the Texans and Titans boast a capable run-defense (9th and 10th in the league). If Peterson can stay healthy (his biggest issue throughout his career) he’s in for a big second half of the season for Arizona. We’ve seen Adrian Peterson lead a team to the postseason before, and if things go the Cardinals way it’s possible that we can see it again.

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Dave Drain

I’m passionate about Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Golf. College or the Pro’s? It doesn’t matter. In addition to writing about sports, I also coach year-round in my community, teaching middle-school boys the fundamentals of the sports I love, as well as helping them grow-up into outstanding young men. Don’t get me started talking stats, and I’m always up for a debate on the greats of the game!

Arizona Cardinals: Can Adrian Peterson run the Cards into the playoffs?

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