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NFC Playoff Picture: Week 17

Cardinals need to beat Rams on Sunday to make postseason


The Cardinals have dropped to the No. 8 spot in the NFC playoff picture after Saturday's loss to the 49ers. It is a perilous place to be with only seven teams eligible for the postseason, but the Cardinals still control their own fate. A victory on Sunday over the Rams would get them into the playoffs as a wild card entrant, while a loss would send them home.

Here is a look at the NFC playoff picture heading into Week 17:

1. Green Bay Packers (12-3): The Packers can clinch the top seed and the only first-round bye in the NFC with a victory on Sunday over the Bears. A loss could allow the Seahawks or Saints to take the top spot.

2. New Orleans Saints (11-4): New Orleans beat the Vikings in Week 16 behind six touchdowns from running back Alvin Kamara. The Saints hold the tiebreaker over Seattle for the No. 2 seed based on best winning percentage in conference games. They play the Panthers in the season finale and would need a three-way tie atop the conference to nab the top seed.

3. Seattle Seahawks (11-4): Seattle clinched the NFC West by knocking off the Rams on Sunday. The Seahawks have an outside shot at the top spot, but they would need to beat the 49ers and have both Green Bay and New Orleans lose their games.

4. Washington Football Team (6-9): Washington lost to the Panthers in Week 16 and released quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Monday. Alex Smith will aim to lead the team to a win on Sunday Night Football over the Eagles, which would secure the NFC East title. A loss means the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game would make the playoffs.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5): The Bucs are in a good spot as the top wild card entrant, as they would face the NFC East winner in the first round. Tampa Bay needs to win in Week 17 against the Falcons to clinch the No. 5 seed.

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-6): The Rams have lost two straight to the Jets and Seahawks, and a playoff spot isn't guaranteed. A loss to the Cardinals and a win by the Bears would boot them out. If Los Angeles wins on Sunday or Chicago loses to the Packers, the Rams are in.

7. Chicago Bears (8-7): The Bears have won three consecutive games to surpass the Cardinals via tiebreaker. Chicago can clinch a spot with a win in Week 17, but it won't be easy against a Green Bay team that needs a victory to guarantee the No. 1 seed in the conference.

In the hunt: Arizona Cardinals (8-7); Dallas Cowboys (6-9); New York Giants (5-10).

What's on the line for the Cardinals in Week 17: If the Cardinals beat the Rams on Sunday, they will surpass Los Angeles in the standings and grab a wild card berth. A loss sends them home at 8-8. The Bears-Packers game doesn't affect the Cardinals' playoff chances, unless the improbable occurs and the Cardinals tie. In that case, a Chicago loss would get the Cardinals in, while a Bears victory would keep Arizona out. The Cardinals can finish as the No. 6 seed, the No. 7 seed or out of the playoffs, depending on their result and the Bears' outcome.

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