The Arizona Cardinals are playing as well, if not better, than any team in the NFL right now -- and they're certainly not afraid to face anyone who may stand in their way in the postseason.
But let's be honest: There are some teams that Cards fans would rather not see in the playoffs -- at least until the later rounds.
And let's continue to be honest: There's really only one team that fans truly fear, and that's the Seattle Seahawks.
Yes, the Cardinals already have a victory over the Seahawks this season -- and on the road in the supposed loudest stadium in the NFL, no less.
And yes, the Seahawks did just lay an egg at home against the mediocre St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
But we all know what these Seahawks are capable of. They have a future Hall of Famer in quarterback Russell Wilson. They have the most feared defensive unit in recent memory. They may get injured running back Marshawn Lynch back for the playoffs.
And most importantly, the Seahawks have a swagger about them that few pro sports teams have ever enjoyed. They don't just believe they can beat anyone; they know it. And they kick things into an entirely different gear come playoff time.
Now, there's a decent chance that the Cardinals will need to beat Seattle in the playoffs in order to return to the Super Bowl. But there's a way to ensure that matchup won't happen until the NFC Championship Game.
Here's how that works: If the Cardinals enter the playoffs as the NFC's No. 2 seed (which they currently are), and the Seahawks enter as the No. 6 seed (which they currently are), there's no way the Cards and Hawks would meet in the divisional playoff round.
In that scenario, if the Seahawks were to win their Wild Card matchup, they would travel to Carolina to face the top-seeded Panthers in the next round, while the winner of the 4-5 matchup (currently Washington vs. Minnesota) would travel to the desert to face the Cards.
Bottom line: If the current playoff seedings hold, the Cardinals would likely have to beat either the Seahawks or the Panthers in order to advance to the Super Bowl -- but they wouldn't have to beat the Seahawks and the Panthers.
Yes, it'd be nice to have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs -- but how much of an advantage would it truly be to have to face the team with the NFC's best record and the two-time defending NFC champions on back-to-back weekends?
If the Seahawks or Packers lose on Sunday, Seattle will be locked into the No. 6 seed. However, a Cardinals win combined with a Panthers loss would make the Cards the NFC's top seed -- which sounds nice, except when you consider Arizona would face the Seahawks in the divisional round should Seattle win its Wild Card matchup.
So, ask yourselves, Cards fans: Do you really want that No. 1 seed? Or would you rather have the luxury of avoiding either the Panthers or Seahawks?
As a life-long Cardinals fan, I'll be the first to admit: I prefer the latter.