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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Arizona Cardinals could make history

Arizona+Cardinals+quarterback+Carson+Palmer+%283%29+passes+against+the+Oakland+Raiders+during+the+second+quarter+on+Sunday%2C+Oct.+19%2C+2014%2C+at+O.co+Coliseum+in+Oakland%2C+Calif.+%28Jose+Carlos+Fajardo%2FBay+Area+News+Group%2FMCT%29
JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes against the Oakland Raiders during the second quarter on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group/MCT)

Could the Arizona Cardinals become the first NFL team to ever play in its home stadium for a Super Bowl? With the 2015 Super Bowl to take place at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, there’s a real chance this could happen.

The Cardinals defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-17 on Sunday to improve to 7-1 on the season, the best record in the entire NFL. Behind a defense that has adopted a next man up mentality, the Cardinals have gone against the odds in their rise to the top.

Just this season alone, the Cardinals have seen countless impact players suffer injuries. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for the entire season, defensive end Darnell Dockett tore his ACL, outside backer John Abraham was placed on injured reserve, and quarterback Carson Palmer had to sit out three games due to a nerve issue.

These are just the four most obvious cases of major injuries, too. It doesn’t take into account those who came back from injury (Tyrann Matheiu) or battled through smaller injuries (Calais Campbell) to produce.

Despite the adversity associated with starters getting injured, that next man up mentality has suited the Cardinals perfectly in their unlikely emergence as Super Bowl contenders. When Washington went down, youngster Kevin Minter and veteran Larry Foote took the challenge head on. They’ve done such a solid job that Washington hasn’t been missed nearly as much as anticipated.

Add in the performances of Tommy Kelly, Tony Jefferson, Drew Stanton and Jerraud Powers, and this Cardinals team is one that could capture the hearts of the nation come February.

It’s been a fantastic coaching job from the duo of head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Arians and Bowles have largely deflected praise for their hot start to the front office.

With Arians, this is almost deja vu of his time with the 2012 Indianapolis Colts. That Colts team lost 13 players to season-ending IR and lost its head coach, Chuck Pagano, who had to head out for leukemia treatments. Arians stepped in as the interim coach and went 9-3, earning the Coach of the Year award along the way.

This Cardinals team may not have been through that many injuries yet, but Arians has still done a masterful job at getting the entire roster ready to play.

Getting to the Super Bowl, let alone winning it, is going to be incredibly tough, though. The Cardinals play in the murderer’s row of a division known as the NFC West and have numerous big-time games remaining, especially in the division. There’s St. Louis twice, Seattle twice and San Francisco once. Plus, three of those five games are on the road.

Even with those tough games, this Arizona Cardinals team is built for success behind an improving offense and a stifling defense. If there is ever going to be a home team play in its own building for a Super Bowl, this team could be the one to do it.

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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