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NFC playoff picture: Arizona Cardinals still need help to make the postseason

Despite a 9-5 record, the Cardinals' chances to make the playoffs are slim.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

After the Arizona Cardinals left Nashville with a 37-34 win over the Tennessee Titans, they improved to 9-5 on the season. However, their playoff chances did not improve. Arizona did not get any help. The Panthers and 49ers both won, keeping them one game ahead with their records.

Here is how things look in the NFC after Sunday's games:

  1. Seattle Seahawks 12-2
  2. New Orleans Saints 10-4
  3. Philadelphia Eagles 8-6
  4. Chicago Bears 8-6
  5. Carolina Panthers 10-4
  6. San Francisco 49ers 10-4
  7. Arizona Cardinals 9-5

As it stands, the Cardinals could win out and still miss the postseason. Tiebreaking scenarios continue to haunt them.

Arizona plays at Seattle and then at home against the 49ers.

Carolina plays at home against the New Orleans Saints and then on the road to play the Falcons.

San Fran hosts the Falcons and then travels to Arizona.

For Arizona to even stay alive, they basically must win their final two games. Even a loss in Seattle will all but end their postseason hopes.

How it stands, the Cards lose any tiebreak with the 49ers, even with a Week 17 win. If the Cards win out, they will end the season 3-3 in the NFC West. The Niners would be 4-2 in the division. They win.

The Cardinals hold a head-to-head tiebreak with the Panthers, but not if there is a three-way tie. If there is a three-way tie, you must first look and see if two of the teams are in the same division and use that tiebreak first. That means the 49ers push the Cards out. Then Carolina would beat out the Niners for the fifth seed.

Essentially, Arizona must win out and either the Niners or Panthers must lose their final two games. As of right now, every part of that scenario looks unlikely.

There is one scenario that allows the Cards to get in with 10 wins. They lose in Seattle and beat the 49ers. San Fran beats the Falcons. The Panthers lose their final two games. San Fran would be 11-5 and the Cards and Panthers would be 10-6, with the Cards holding the tiebreaker.

This actually gives fans hope, because this is actually the most likely scenario for Cards to get in.

What every Cardinals fan should now be is a Falcons and Saints fan. Both Carolina and San Fran play Atlanta in the next two weeks.

Go Falcons! Go Saints! Go Cardinals