The Arizona Cardinals remained ahead in the race for the No. 2 seed by beating the Vikings.
The Cardinals improved to 11-2 and pushed their winning streak to seven games with a 23-20 victory over the Vikings on Thursday night. While it had long been a foregone conclusion, the victory officially punched the team's ticket to the postseason. With three games remaining, here is a look at how the NFC playoff picture is shaping up.
1) Carolina Panthers (13-0) – The Panthers throttled the Falcons, 38-0, on Sunday and lead the NFL with a plus-168 point-differential.
2) Arizona Cardinals (11-2) – The Cardinals had some issues against the Vikings but kept pace with the other top teams by making key plays at the end.
3) Green Bay Packers (9-4) – The Packers got back on track with a decisive win against the Cowboys and are still in play for a postseason bye.
4) Washington Redskins (6-7) – The Redskins currently hold the tiebreaker in the NFC East, but the Eagles and Giants have the same record. The division title could come down to the wire.
5) Seattle Seahawks (8-5) – The Seahawks dominated the Ravens and are the wild card team nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
6) Minnesota Vikings (8-5) – Two straight losses have dropped Minnesota from the NFC North lead to the final wild card spot.
In the hunt: Philadelphia Eagles (6-7); New York Giants (6-7); Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7); Atlanta Falcons (6-7).
What's on the line for the Cardinals: The NFC West title can be claimed if the Cardinals beat the Eagles on Sunday night, the Seahawks lose to the Browns or the strength of victory tiebreaker is clinched. In an ideal scenario, the Cards could also clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC by winning their game and having the Packers lose to the Raiders. It will be tough to catch the Panthers for the No. 1 seed as they would have to lose twice down the stretch. All three of Carolina's remaining opponents are under .500. If the Cardinals secure one of the top two seeds, it would guarantee them a first-round bye and a home playoff game in the NFC divisional round.
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the Week 14 home game against the Vikings