Not for the fact that loads of big-name celebrities/famous people have died, but because of the chance that the Arizona Cardinals had of making it back to the playoffs and having a chance of redeeming themselves also died a horrible and painful death.
Rewind a number of weeks ago to the start of the 2016 NFL Season and the Arizona Cardinals hype was at its peak – crowned Superbowl Champions by Sports Illustrated before the season had begun and with a roster that, at least on paper, looked a heck of a lot better than that which disappointed so much in last year’s playoffs.
Then came week 1 of the season and a chance to take on a Tom Brady-less New England Patriots – surely the best chance they would have to get their season off to a winning start? But, no, they underestimated the power of Jimmy Garoppolo as he impressed enough to probably earn a multi-million dollar contract from the Cleveland Browns in the off-season and become yet another name on the infamous QB jersey.
The Cardinals did have an opportunity to win the game in the dying seconds but, as was to become a worrying trend throughout the disappointing season, a special teams cock-up saw Chandler Catanzaro miss what would have been a game-winning 41-yard field goal. A poor snap from a UDFA Long Snapper. Blame Canaday.
Back in the comfort of their University of Phoenix Stadium home, the Cardinals convincingly beat a very good Tampa Bay Buccaneers side in humiliating fashion. Even Marcus Cooper convinced us that he might be the answer alongside Patrick Peterson in the secondary…but, as the season wore on, we found out that this was a lie and that he just wasn’t that good. Probably why KC let him go.
Back-to-back losses against an already-under-fire Rex Ryan and his Buffalo Bills and the laughable Los Angeles Rams already seemed to threaten the season. Disappointment aplenty as the Cardinals lost out to teams they should have really been beating if they were to make amends for last season.
A couple of wins against very bad San Francisco and New York Jets teams reignited hopes for the season but they merely papered over the cracks in the team for another week. It’s all well and good beating bad teams, but you won’t be winning the Superbowl anytime soon when losses pile up…like they continued for the next two weeks before the team’s bye week.
Yeah, the Seattle game was a tie…and, once again, could have been won without another spectacular special teams cock-up…but it felt like a loss and still does. A game they needed to win, if only to prove to themselves that they weren’t some “flash in the pan”, one-season wonder. As it turns out, the evidence seems to suggest they are/were.
No matter how many times you heard a “we can still make the playoffs” soundbite from Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer or the team’s kit man, you kind of felt that after the first half of the season that this was not going to be the case. Too many missed opportunities, too many let-downs and disappointment by the bucketload. The writing was on the wall, the 2016 Arizona Cardinals team were not and are not a playoff team.
The only way the Cardinals could have made the playoffs this season would be if they played the San Francisco 49ers every week. 2 wins from 2 versus their division rivals, but it would prove to be nowhere near good enough to make a difference to this torrid season that is Twenty Sixteen.
The door was slightly ajar for the Cardinals to maybe sneak into the playoffs as a wild card team but losses to fellow NFC sides Minnesota and Atlanta meant that those hopes went up in smoke. Yet more disappointment.
Cool, they managed to muster up another W vs the Washington Racistnames but…yeah…like it really mattered when you head over to Miami the following week and then lose to an AFC side also looking to sneak into the playoffs.
Finally, following this game, it appeared as though the team had given up hopes of making the playoffs – there were no patronising soundbites to say “we’re still in this” and, though still mathematically possible (but, in theory, impossible) that they could make the playoffs, does this Arizona Cardinals team look like it is playoff worthy?
Three games still to play and, if I’m honest, I’d much rather see them lose all three and put themselves in a position to draft what would hopefully be an “elite” prospect to help rebuild this team and maybe assist in a big run at the Lombardi Trophy in 2017.
But, after what has happened this year, could you even picture the Cardinals being in contention next year? With better special teams play, upgrades on the offensive line, healthy players like Tyrann Mathieu playing to their potential and Robert Nkemdiche not being inactive every bloody week.
As a Cardinals fan, I always live in hope that this will be our year.
For 2016 though, that hope is dead and buried.