3 big takeaways from Cards' loss to Seahawks

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-03 23:11:55-05

The Seattle Seahawks ran all over the Arizona Cardinals in the regular-season finale for both teams on Sunday.

What did Seattle's 36-6 victory mean? Nothing, really.

Here are three big takeaways from the Cards' defeat, which dropped them to 13-3 on the season.

1. Whatever.

I wrote this on Saturday in my prediction for Sunday's game:

This game isn't likely to matter one way or another for the Cards, and if they lose, don't sweat it. This team is primed for a Super Bowl run, as long as their stars -- knock on wood -- leave the field with their health intact on Sunday.

Those words are still applicable. A Cardinals victory would have meant nothing, as the Panthers destroyed the Buccaneers on Sunday to lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC and keep the Cards in the No. 2 position. Arizona already had a first-round bye secured by virtue of its beat-down of the Packers last weekend.

Please resist the urge to panic, Cards fans. This was not a meaningful game. The real Cards team is the one that beat the Seahawks in Seattle seven weeks ago. That's the team we'll see in the playoffs in two short weeks.

2. No new injuries.

Again, the Cardinals' primary objective on Sunday was to leave the field injury-free. Mission accomplished, as Carson Palmer sat out the second half and, unlike last year, will be healthy for this season's playoff run. So will everyone who matters to the team except safety Tyrann Mathieu, who tore his ACL two weeks ago (with the possible exception of defensive lineman Cory Redding, who left early with an ankle injury).

A healthy combination of Palmer, running back David Johnson and the Cards' dangerous wide receiver combo, along with the non-Honey Badger starters on defense, should be good to go when the team takes the field in two weeks. That's the only victory Cards fans should care about.

3. Sunday night's game looms large.

With that said... it sure would be nice to avoid the Seahawks until the NFC Championship game, wouldn't it? Well, the Cards will be assured of that if the Vikings beat the Packers on Sunday Night Football.

In that scenario, Seattle would be the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, meaning the Seahawks would head to Carolina if they win their Wild Card game. That means the Cards would likely have to play the Seahawks or the Panthers but would definitely not have to play both in order to advance to the Super Bowl.

If, however, Green Bay wins on Sunday night, the Seahawks will be the No. 5 seed -- and that leaves the door open for Cards-Seahawks Part III in the Divisional round.