Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald pancakes Vikings safety Anthony Harris during Michael Floyd's 42-yard touchdown catch last week.
If the Cardinals win in Philadelphia Sunday night, it will mean more than the team just clinching an NFC West title for the first time since 2009, or potentially clinching a first-round postseason bye.
A win would mean, well, a win. More specifically, a 12th win this season – more victories in a year than the Cardinals have ever had in their long franchise history.
This is an organization that dates back more than 100 years, an original member of the NFL. They have won 11 games in
back-to-back seasons for first time ever, after winning 11 only three times before 2014.
Records are teetering for the Cardinals in a few spots. The Cards have gone three games without a turnover for the first time ever. The team is just 23 points away from setting a franchise record in a season (the 2008 team scored 427.) Quarterback Carson Palmer, who has a shot at 5,000 yards passing this season (he's at 4,003) should smash Neil Lomax's single-season mark of 4,614 yards and he already has the record for TD passes, with 31.
The numbers, records or not, are gaudy all over the place.
Yet here the Cardinals are, still waiting to lock down a division title or a bye. The Thursday game against the Vikings gave them time to rest, but it also meant they were home after an admittedly less-than-complete win while their prime NFC competition – the Panthers, Seahawks and Packers – came away with dominating victories. Those three teams won by a combined score of 101-13.
Records can fall, but focus should not.
"We're not patting ourselves on the back," Palmer said. "I know (Bruce Arians) won't let us listen to the outside noise and playoff
talk and all of that stuff. That's not important. What is important is we fix the errors that are slowing us down from running away with games."
Arians said this week is big because there is a chance at a "hat and a t-shirt," meaning the division-winning gear the players would put on in the locker room if they beat the Eagles. That remains motivation.
And if the Packers would happen to lose at Oakland – and that game will be decided before the Cardinals kick off – the Cardinals would also get their first-round bye before playing their last two games.
The Cardinals return to practice Tuesday. They are hoping to get some of their injured players back this week (the first official injury report won't be out until Wednesday) but Arians already believes his players are refreshed by their mini-bye.
At one point Sunday, safety Tony Jefferson even admitted he kind of wished the Cardinals were playing again on the weekend – and that's a player who has been dealing with a sore hamstring.
That's what happens when the team is going well and records can fall. That's what happens when a 12-win season is in collective sight, even if there are some places where the Cardinals can improve.
"I don't think we could get much better than winning seven in a row," Arians said. "But we can play better. Just continue to strive to get better."
The top images from the Cardinals' Week 14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings