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Happy holidays, everyone. As the NFL regular season draws to a close, the playoff picture has become more clear. Six teams have clinched playoff spots, and the NFC playoff picture in particular has become pretty straightforward. For the Arizona Cardinals, this means their path to the postseason is simple. They already own the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC, so winning their final 2 games would guarantee a place in the tournament. They can also secure a spot this week by with either a win over the San Francisco 49ers and a loss or tie by the Chicago Bears, wh play the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, when it comes to cheering for other teams in order to get better seeding, things tend to get a little confusing for Cardinals fans.
So let’s take a look at each relevant game happening this week in the NFL and see how they impact the Cardinals’ playoff aspirations ahead of their showdown with the 49ers this Saturday.
Bears at Jaguars
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The aforementioned Bears are the only real competition to taking Arizona’s playoff spot altogether, so Cardinals fans should root against them for the remainder of the season. Jacksonville currently holds the No. 1 overall pick, so them knocking off Chicago may require a little bit of magic from QB Gardner Minshew.
Vikings at Saints
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The Vikings still are technically alive in the playoff race, but any loss or Arizona win in the next two weeks eliminates them from contention. Additionally, the Saints winning this matchup would keep them in contention for the top seed in the NFC, incentivizing the Packers to keep their starters in against Chicago in Week 17. Cardinals fans should support Black and Gold in this Christmas Day matchup.
Buccaneers at Lions
The Buccaneers winning here doesn’t do anything to disqualify Arizona from overall contention in the playoffs, but a loss would allow the Cardinals to overtake Tampa in seeding. And with a matchup with the infamous NFC East looming for whoever claims the fifth seed in the playoffs this year, the Lions should feel an extra bit of support from the Red Sea this week.
Rams at Seahawks
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The Seahawks defeating the Rams here would allow Arizona to leapfrog Los Angeles for second place in the NFC West if they win their Week 17 matchup against the Rams, but that would require the Cardinals to win this week as well. Seattle winning keeps them in the race for the first seed, again inclining Green Bay to play their starters against Chicago. If Arizona was to lose the seventh seed to Chicago this weekend, that would be a big help in reclaiming it.
Titans at Packers
This exciting Sunday night showdown will feature two teams that will be competing for a championship in the new year. But in this battle of the Titans (insert laughter here), Cardinals fans should pull for Tennessee. Just like in the LA/SEA game, keeping Green Bay fighting for that first-round bye should be a top interest for the Cards. Listen to the latest from Cards Wire's Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Latest show: