Let me tell you a true story.
Last year, I bet $100 that the Cardinals would go to the Super Bowl.
My logic was simple: The NFC West wasn’t stout, with only the Seattle Seahawks as a perennial threat.
With the odds I received from Las Vegas, I believed this to be an excellent bet. I just needed the Cardinals to reach the postseason, and then they would have a fighting chance.
And in a way, I was right.
The NFC West was terrible. And the conference as a whole did turn out to be a crapshoot, with the 9-7 Washington Redskins grabbing the final wild card spot.
But the Cardinals collapsed. Accentuated by the demise of Kurt Warner early in the season, the home team struggled for much of the 2007 season.
Not only did coach Ken Whisenhunt’s first season fail to lift off, it outright sank.
I always had bad timing when it came to gambling.
But like most helpless gamblers, I’m running back to the casino for more: The Arizona Cardinals are among the strongest contenders for the NFC Championship.
Take a moment to laugh. Then consider my argument.
The Cardinals are 3-2. The three other divisional have has three wins combined.
Seattle’s ship is crashing and coach Mike Holmgren’s finale isn’t going as planned.
Let’s ignore the winless St. Louis Rams and move onto the unlikely second-place team in the NFC West: the San Francisco 49ers, ladies and gentlemen. At this point, they are Arizona’s fiercest competition.
Arizona’s convincing 41-17 victory on Sunday against a then-undefeated Buffalo Bills team has raised more than a few eyebrows.
Now consider this: The Cardinals outrank the 49ers in yards gained, first downs, third down-conversion percentage, and have recorded more sacks than the 49ers through five games.
Kurt Warner, despite his age (37), isn’t letting Matt Leinart steal his thunder and subject the team to another controversy after completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, which have gone for 1,472 yards.
All this makes Anquan Boldin’s injury seem all the more painful, especially for the Cardinals who have gained 77 of their 120 first downs with the pass.
Arizona’s defense raises the most questions. Ranked out of the top 10 in points allowed and yards allowed, the defense will be put to the test.
Playing in the weakest division in professional football, the Cardinals have this season make the leap. You can bet on Arizona being a lock for the postseason. And once they get there, no bet would be a smart one as to how far they can go. No bet I would be willing to take anyway. I have already learned my lesson with that.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.