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NFC Playoff Picture: Week 16

Cardinals fall to fourth in conference, tied with Rams atop NFC West


The Cardinals no longer hold the first-round playoff bye position in the NFC or the league's best record, but still are close to clinching a playoff spot. With three games remaining, here is a look at how the conference's playoff picture is shaping up.

No. 1 Green Bay Packers (11-3): Green Bay became the first team in 2021 to clinch a playoff berth -- locking up the NFC North -- after defeating Baltimore on Sunday. Green Bay holds a one-game lead over the teams in contention for the conference's top seed, and based on their remaining schedule, have a strong chance of maintaining the position. Green Bay will face Cleveland in Week 16.

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys (10-4): Dallas captured a second consecutive divisional victory Sunday after defeating the New York Giants on Sunday, and in doing so, moved up the standings. The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East title with a victory over the Washington Football Team in Week 16.

No. 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4): Tampa Bay had a chance to clinch the NFC South crown for the first time since 2007 with a victory over New Orleans, and instead, were shut out in the loss to drop in the standings. Wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and running back Leonard Fournette suffered injuries, but at least the Bucs have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league. Tampa Bay will face Carolina in Week 16 with another chance to clinch the division.

No. 4 Arizona Cardinals (10-4): The Cardinals dropped to fourth in the standings following their loss to Detroit on Sunday. The Cardinals have lost two straight games that would have clinched a playoff berth had they won. They will try again Week 16 against Indianapolis. The Cards are tied with the Rams in the standings, but remain in first place based on the divisional record tiebreaker.

No. 5 Los Angeles Rams (10-4): Los Angeles has won three consecutive games -- two have been divisional -- after beating Seattle on Tuesday. Los Angeles now owns the same overall record as the three teams ahead of them in the conference and put more pressure on the Cardinals in the NFC West title race. Los Angeles will battle Minnesota in Week 16.

No. 6 San Francisco 49ers (8-6): San Francisco, winners of five of its last six games, went from likely candidates to miss the postseason to a team with an 84 percent chance to make the playoffs. The 49ers currently have a Wild Card spot on near-lock and will face Tennessee in Week 16.

No. 7: Minnesota Vikings (7-7): Minnesota woke up Monday morning sitting outside the playoff picture and then re-entered the race after defeating Chicago on Monday. Since Philadelphia beat Washington on Tuesday and Minnesota owns the better conference record over New Orleans, Mike Zimmer's troops remain with the final playoff spot -- for now.

In the Hunt: Philadelphia Eagles (7-7), New Orleans (7-7), Washington Football Team (6-8), Atlanta Falcons (6-8), Carolina Panthers (5-9), Seattle Seahawks (5-9).

What's on the line for the Cardinals in Week 16: The Cardinals will host Indianapolis with an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2015. A victory would also keep the Cardinals in the race for the conference's top seed.