The Arizona Cardinals have traversed the first 10 weeks of the NFL season and sit atop the NFC West.
With a handful of marquee wins already in hand, the Cardinals head into Week 11 for their second bout of the season with the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football.
And with a slim lead separating Arizona from both Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams, there’s a lot at stake when the Cardinals and Seahawks battle it out in the Pacific Northwest.
Cardinals GM Steve Keim didn’t understate the importance of the game when he joined Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday.
“I can’t think of [a more important regular season game] off the top of my head,” Keim said. “When you’re in this position when you win, every game just gets bigger and bigger. The year we ended the season and went to the NFC Championship and played the Panthers, I think that year there were a number of games that just got bigger and bigger as we continued to win.
“Tough to say but as far as my mindset, it starts with the Seahawks this week and that’s how you have to approach it.”
Both teams enter the matchup on different wavelengths.
The Seahawks stumble in after falling 23-16 to the Rams. MVP candidate Russell Wilson was held to just 248 yards and no touchdowns. He also tossed two interceptions in the loss. It marked his first game without a score and his second straight outing of at least two turnovers.
The Cardinals return to the gridiron after a thrilling comeback win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. In the victory, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray totaled three scores and 306 yards. It was his lone passing touchdown that put the team over the top and into national headlines.
Down late in the fourth quarter with just seconds remaining, Murray found DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone for a 43-yard Hail Mary to hand the Cardinals a 32-30 win.
Since the amazing catch by Hopkins, who was smothered by three defenders and still made the grab, the Cardinals have been the topic of discussion across the NFL.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury says the matchup between the Cardinals and Seahawks couldn’t come at a better time just for that reason.
“It is fortunate schedule-wise that we do play one of the best teams in the league and a division rival in Seattle,” Kingsbury said via Zoom on Wednesday. “We know going up there with a talented team, Pete Carroll is one of the greatest coaches of all-time, that we better snap right back into it and get down to business.
“That wasn’t hard to do with our team. They came back focused, understanding the great challenge we have ahead of us, so I definitely think playing a team like Seattle helped us snap back into reality really quickly.”
The Cardinals embark on the remainder of their season sitting in first place and acting as the NFL’s darling after last week’s heroics.
It’s been a good run so far, but there’s still plenty of games remaining on the docket before anyone can even begin to celebrate. You can’t win championships in the middle of the season.
“I’m certainly happy we’re here right now, but not satisfied,” Keim said. “We haven’t accomplished anything yet and I know we get pats on the back and that beats the alternative. But the truth to the matter is things can unravel at anytime so you just have to stay laser focused and put one day at a time.”