NFC, Cards Playoff Picture Still Unclear

While a second straight postseason berth and NFC West title have long been determined, the Arizona Cardinals playoff fate still hangs in the balance. The Cardinals currently sit as the No. 4 seed in the NFC but could move up to the second seed. First up is a matchup with the postseason bound Green Bay Packers. Brad Wilbricht breaks down Sunday's game between two of the league's hottest teams.

Although several teams have little to play for entering Week 17, the Arizona Cardinals stand on the other side of the spectrum. Playoff seeding becomes vital this time of the year and favorable matchups could be on the horizon for Arizona if things fall in place. As of now, the Cardinals know they'll play one of three teams: the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers or Philadelphia Eagles. There's also a chance Arizona earns a bye if it's able to jump to the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

One major advantage of jumping to the second or third seed would be prolonging a potential date with the New Orleans Saints. While the Cardinals possess the offensive firepower to rival QB Drew Brees and the Saints, traveling to New Orleans in a playoff atmosphere would be an extremely difficult task. Moving up to the third seed would also support this theory as Arizona would most likely travel to Minnesota or Philadelphia in the divisional round. The Cardinals would have plenty of confidence in either matchup as they dominated the Vikings earlier this season and knocked of the Eagles in the NFC Championship game a year ago.

Donovan McNabb
(AP Photo)

Regardless of who Arizona squares off against in the postseason, it will certainly be a team on a role. The Cardinals are in the midst of strong finish with a 6-2 record over their previous eight contests but the rest of the NFC playoff teams have been just as impressive. Philadelphia has reeled off six consecutive wins heading into the regular season finale while the Packers have won six of their last seven outings. The Cowboys have won four of six, including a road win against the then undefeated Saints.

When predicting what will happen this weekend, the following outcome arguably makes the most sense. Assuming the home team prevails in all three games – Arizona, Dallas and Minnesota – the Vikings would secure the second seed with the Cardinals third and Cowboys fourth. Philadelphia would finish as the No. 5 seed with Green Bay in the No. 6 slot. New Orleans and Minnesota will receive first-round byes while the Packers would head back to the desert for a second week in a row while the Eagles would travel back to Dallas again.

The bottom line is that speculation does little at this point due to the variable outcomes in Week 17. However, if things pan out as outlined above there could be some familiar matchups taking place in the postseason. Arizona will have its hands full with whomever it lines up against come playoff time but the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage would be welcomed with open arms as the Cardinals attempt to defend their NFC Championship.

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