At 5-4, the Arizona Cardinals can truly, with a straight face, be called a playoff contender.

Under first-year coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals have matched their win total from last season with a team built around a strong defense and special teams. The offense has a ways to go but performed better in the team's last two outings, home victories over underachievers Atlanta and Houston.

Sunday's 27-24 win over the Texans leaves the Cardinals a game behind wild card front-runners San Francisco and Carolina.

And Arizona has beaten Carolina.

Next up is a game at Jacksonville, where the Jaguars are 1-8 after beating Tennessee.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx