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Cardinals can become third 11-5 team to miss playoffs

Carson Palmer

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


Of the 10 NFL teams that have double-digit wins this season, eight have already clinched playoff berths and a ninth will make the playoffs with a win on Sunday. And then there are the Cardinals.

Arizona is 10-5 but will probably miss the playoffs even if it improves to 11-5 with a win over San Francisco on Sunday. (The Cardinals need to win to make the playoffs and also need the Saints to lose to the Buccaneers.) If the Cardinals do miss the playoffs at 11-5, they will be just the third team in NFL history to do so.

As noted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the only previous 11-5 teams to miss the playoffs were the 1985 Broncos and the 2008 Patriots. (Three 11-win teams missed the playoffs in the old days, before the 16-game season and the expanded playoffs. The 1967 Baltimore Colts missed the playoffs at 11-1-2, the 1963 Green Bay Packers missed the playoffs at 11-2-1 and the 1962 Detroit Lions missed the playoffs at 11-3.)

The Cardinals have a lot to be proud of this season, but they had the bad luck to be playing in the NFC West, which has proven this season to be one of the toughest divisions in NFL history. The Seahawks and 49ers are two of the best teams in the NFL, and even the last-place Rams could contend for first place in some divisions. (The Rams beat the Cardinals in Week One and later had wins over the Colts, Bears and Saints.)

The good news for Cardinals fans? Both of the previous 11-5 teams that missed the playoffs won their divisions the next year.