With another week in the books it's time to take another look at the NFC Playoff picture and where your very own Arizona Cardinals stand amongst their playoff foes. The picture didn't get much clearer after this weekend's game considering that not a single team got eliminated. There's a long list of what each team needs to get into the playoffs and who the Cardinals would play in each scenario.
1. New York Giants (12-3): An entertaining win over the Panthers means that they're locked into the top seed in the playoffs. They're game this week against the Vikings (at home) will impact the playoff picture but will have no bearing on their playoff positioning.
2. Carolina Panthers (11-4): The Panthers lost a great game to watch but they're still in the playoffs. They travel to New Orleans to finish the season but they will probably have to win to keep the #2 seed.
3. Minnesota Vikings (9-6): The Vikes have got to be worried. They lost a home game to the Falcons and saw the Bears win an improbable game last night. Now they host the Giants while the Bears travel to Houston.
4. Arizona Cardinals (8-7): The Cardinals are locked into the #4 seed. Even if Chicago overtakes the Vikings, the Cardinals have a worse win/loss percentage among common opponents. This weeks game against the SeaPukes is meaningless outside of the psyche of the team.
5. Atlanta Falcons (10-5) - The 'feel good' story of the NFC clinched a playoff berth on Sunday and they're not out of the running for the NFC South title. They finish with a home game against the Rams so they're playoff positioning will depend on the Panthers.
6. Dallas Cowboys (9-6): The Boys remain in charge of their own destiny even though they lost to the Ravens but a road game in Philly won't be a cake walk by any means.
Best of the Rest:
Tampa Bay (9-6): Still alive but have to beat OAK at home and get help.
Philadelphia (8-6-1) - Still alive but need to beat DAL at home and get a lot of help.
Chicago (9-6) - Still alive but have to beat HOU on the road and get help.
As far as what each team needs to do to face the Cardinals, we turn to Darren Urban who's got a very nice breakdown. He says that the Cardinals only have three possible opponents for the first round, Atlanta, Carolina or Dallas.
The Cardinals face the Falcons if.......
1. Carolina wins and the Falcons win.
2. Carolina, Atlanta and Dallas lose.
The Cardinals face the Panthers if......
1. Carolina loses and Atlanta wins.
The Cardinals face the Cowboys if......
1. Dallas wins and Atlanta loses.
As far as what each team needs to get in, here's what they need.
Minnesota - Clinch the North (and 3rd seed) with a win or Chicago loss.
Chicago - Clinches the North (and 3rd seed) with a win and Minny loss. They'd beat out the Cardinals b/c of a better win/loss percantage among common opponents.
Dallas - Win and they're in.
Tampa - Clinch a playoff spot with a win and Dallas loss. They could also get in a with a tie but it gets crazy from there.
Philly - clinch a wild-card spot with a win over Dallas and losses by Tampa and Chicago OR a win and losses by Tampa and Minnesota.