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"Underdog" Cardinals Ready For Run

Open second half of season against 49ers in a quest for postseason spot


The Cardinals remain a confident bunch in terms of making a playoff run.

The Cardinals begin the second half of the season outside of a playoff spot and under .500.

Their confidence such issues can be rectified remains intact.

"I know people don't believe it and probably don't want to hear it, but I like where we are," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "We're the underdog.

"We're going to come out fighting and I'm excited to watch us on Sunday nights and watch what happens these next eight


That doesn't mean anyone in the locker room is embracing the team's 3-4-1 record – "It feels a lot better being 9-1, I'm just telling you," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said – but it underscores not only a belief but also the muddled nature of the NFC playoff race.

"I don't think anything has changed," Fitzgerald added. "We're not in the position we had hoped to be record-wise but we are far from out of contention. It's not like we are 0-8 and twiddling our thumbs waiting for the season to end."

The Cardinals are two games behind in the NFC West, although they will be heavy favorites to beat the 49ers at home Sunday while the team they are chasing – Seattle – must go cross-country to play in New England Sunday night.

If the Cardinals win and the Seahawks lose, that's the one-game difference the Cards need to have by the time the teams meet Christmas Eve.

Then again, there are plenty of pitfalls between then and now for the Cardinals, who play five of their final seven – after this weekend's game against the Niners – away from home.

"I don't think anyone is picking us to do anything right now," coach Bruce Arians said. "The only thing I want them to pick us

is to win one ballgame."

That isn't a problem this week. The 49ers have lost seven straight since winning their opener, and a roster with little talent has been undercut by significant injuries. Colin Kaepernick is coming off his best game since replacing Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, but Kaepernick suffered through a hellish performance last season at University of Phoenix Stadium and his best running back (Carlos Hyde) and best receiver (Torrey Smith) are banged up and will be limited if they play.

"I only lost seven games when I was in college but every one of those losses is a gut-wrenching one," first-year 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. "We've lost seven games this season, and every one of those losses is a gut-wrenching one. … Whether it's seven games in four years or seven games in one season, I still think you approach it the same way."

The Cards are also trying to be analytical about their record, which gives them a better chance at the postseason but leaves little room for error.

"My mindset is, I don't care where we are right now, as long as we get into the dance," defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. "We have to find a way to get into the dance, anything is possible.

"I'd love to win the division, but honestly, the biggest thing is just getting to the playoffs. We are a team that is hungry, motivated and confident. Now we have to just go and play ball."

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