NFC playoff picture: Arizona Cardinals still on the outside after Panthers win

Christian Petersen

However, they are still relevant and it is November!

The Arizona Cardinals, after winning their third straight game on Sunday, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-14, they stand exactly where they did a week ago in the NFC playoff race. They are seventh in the conference, which is just outside the playoffs, were the season to end today.

Here are the current standings.

1. Seattle Seahawks (10-1)

2. New Orleans Saints (8-2)

3. Detroit Lions (6-4)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)

5. Carolina Panthers (7-3)

6. San Francisco 49ers (6-4)

In the mix: Arizona Cardinals (6-4), Chicago Bears (6-4), Dallas Cowboys (5-5) and Green Bay Packers (5-5)

Arizona loses the tiebreak with the 49ers because of their head to head record. Arizona will host San Francisco in Week 17.

Had the Panthers lost to the Patriots on Monday night, they would have been seventh, while the Niners and Cards each would have moved up a slot.

Here are the upcoming games for the key teams in the wild card push:

Cardinals: vs. Colts, at Eagles, vs. Rams, at Titans, at Seahawks, vs. Niners

49ers: at Redskins, vs. Rams, vs. Seahawks, at Buccaneers, vs. Falcons, at Cards

Panthers: at Dolphins, vs. Bucs, at Saints, vs. Jets, vs. Saints, at Falcons

Bears: at Rams, at Vikings, vs. Cowboys, at Browns, at Eagles, vs. Packers

Tiebreaking procedures in the wild card race go like this:

  1. Head to head record
  2. Record in conference (NFC in this case)
  3. Record in common games, minimum of four
  4. Strength of victory
  5. Strength of schedule
Arizona is 4-4 in the NFC currently -- 0-3 in the division, but 4-1 outside it. San Francisco is 3-3 in the conference. Chicago is 3-4. Carolina is 6-2.

Let's say the Cards ended the season with a win over San Fran and both teams end in a tie. Head to head would be a wash. If both teams went to the conference record, it would still be a tie. Strength of victory would come into play, and the Niners take that. The Niners are +69 on the season in point differential. Arizona finally cracked the plus side, at +2.

What chances do you give Arizona? How many wins will it take (I say 10)? How confident are you that the Cardinals will stay in the race?

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