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Cardinals Bring Playoff Mentality To Matchup With Bills

Wins at a premium in final eight-game regular season sprint

CB Patrick Peterson said the Cardinals are treating the final eight regular season games like postseason contests.
CB Patrick Peterson said the Cardinals are treating the final eight regular season games like postseason contests.

The Cardinals have some positive vibes going after a promising first half of the season, but potential alone doesn't win football games.

While a 5-3 record has the team in the No. 6 spot in the NFC playoff picture, a tough slate awaits in the second half of the season.

If the Cardinals lose too many coin-flip contests down the stretch – like they did Sunday despite outgaining the Dolphins by 130 yards – dreams of their first playoff appearance since 2015 will disappear.

That's why cornerback Patrick Peterson is treating the Week 10 showdown against the Bills like it's already the start of the postseason.

"Every game is a playoff game for us," Peterson said. "Every game is very important. We feel like we let two slip away (against the Dolphins and Lions) that we had really good opportunities of winning. Now we can't let any games slip away. Every game counts now. It's an eight-game season, and no game after that is promised."

Buffalo enters with a 7-2 record, fresh off an impressive 44-34 win over the Seahawks, although cornerbacks Josh Norman and Levi Wallace are among four players who aren't traveling to Arizona after being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list.

Despite that, the Bills are a tough matchup. Quarterback Josh Allen has reached new heights in his third season, as his accuracy and overall efficiency have caught up to the always-ridiculous arm talent.

Stefon Diggs leads the NFL in receptions (63) and receiving yards (813), while former Cardinals receiver John Brown is another dangerous weapon on the outside. Many are expecting a shootout, even with the Cardinals finally in good health in their secondary.

"Josh is as talented of a player you'll see when you're talking about arm strength and athleticism and being able to escape and move and make plays," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He was awesome last Sunday. If you watch that Seattle game, the ball hardly touched the ground, and he's had a great year, so it will be a heck of a challenge for us."

While Kingsbury wasn't talking about his own quarterback in that instance, there's no question Kyler Murray has the elite dual-threat tools that should make this game must-see television on both ends.

Even though the outcome wasn’t what he wanted, Murray was fantastic against the Dolphins and has quickly transformed into a full-blown star in Year 2. He spread it around nicely against Miami, as Christian Kirk was the main target on a quieter-than-usual day for DeAndre Hopkins.

With Diggs on the other side, Kingsbury believes Hopkins will want to star in this one.

"I definitely think they're competitors, and they know what the other one has been doing this season, there's no question about that," Kingsbury said. "I can't speak for Stefon, but I know DeAndre, his expectation is to play at an elite level each and every day, particularly on Sundays, and catch a lot of footballs. I don't think that'll change, but I'm sure they're aware of the type of year the other guy is having, and they'll want to go out there and put on a show."

The Cardinals have the best point-differential (plus-54) in the NFC heading into Week 10, but are not yet lumped among the top-tier contenders in the conference alongside the Seahawks, Packers, Saints and Buccaneers.

A win over Buffalo could shift that perception and boost their chances of solidifying a playoff spot.

"I came into a team that was hungry, and I feel like we're still the same way," Hopkins said. "Everyone wants to win, and wants to win big. Not just more than seven, eight games. This team has a championship mindset."

Images from practice at the Dignity Health Training Center, presented by Hyundai.

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