The Norman Transcript

Sports

November 25, 2013

On a roll: Panthers, Cardinals and Steelers streaking

NORMAN — Here they come: the Panthers, Cardinals and Steelers.

There they go: the Texans and Falcons.

With all the up-and-down performances in the NFL this season, lots of teams are showing consistency lately. That’s a good thing — and a bad one.

It’s certainly a positive for Carolina, Arizona and Pittsburgh, all of which have pushed their way into the postseason picture.

“When you start stacking chips, it’s fun,” says Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, whose team has moved to 7-4 by stacking four chips in a row.

Arians, who won NFL Coach of the Year honors in 2012 as an interim with Indianapolis while Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia, is squarely in the running for that award this year as Arizona’s head man.

“You guys are in there,” he told reporters. “You come in that locker room. It’s a lot louder; it’s a lot more fun. The camaraderie is easy when you’re winning. Our guys went through some tough times and built that camaraderie. With camaraderie comes accountability to each other, and that makes it very easy to coach.”

What also makes it easier to coach is when you have a defense no one can run on — the Cardinals ranked second in rushing D heading into their 40-11 demolition of Pagano and the Colts on Sunday. They also have an improving offense as veteran Carson Palmer has stopped turning over the ball.

Three of Arizona’s losses have been in the NFC West, so even winning out isn’t likely to lift the Cardinals to a division title. And they finish with a trip to Seattle and hosting San Francisco. So projecting them into the playoffs is difficult. But not ludicrous.

“In this league, everybody is so good and things happen so fast,” Palmer said. “Teams go from good to bad or bad to good very quickly in this league. It’s hard to say that we saw this coming, but we’ve been working toward this.”

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