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Understanding Cardinals' Playoff Options

Notebook: Top seed, division still in play; Injury update; Pro Bowlers announced Tuesday


Linebacker Larry Foote and the Cardinals are hoping the Rams can beat the Seahawks this weekend.

The Cardinals' playoff scenarios are relatively simple, and the opportunity to still win the NFC West remains.

If the Cardinals win in San Francisco and the Rams manage to upset the red-hot Seahawks in Seattle (or at least tie them), the Cards would win the

NFC West and assure themselves of a first-round bye. They would still clinch the NFC's No. 1 overall seed if they win the division and the Lions beat the Packers in Green Bay (or at least tie them).

If the Cardinals win the division and the Packers beat the Lions, the Cardinals would be the No. 2 seed.

A Seahawks win or a Cardinals loss means the Cardinals will be the No. 5 seed and travel to play the NFC South champion – the winner of the Atlanta-Carolina game – in the wild card round.

One subplot: The NFL officially moved kickoff for the Lions-Packers game to 2:25 p.m. Arizona time, aligning it with the kickoff times of Cardinals-49ers and Seahawks-Rams. Since all will be played concurrently, each game retains full meaning.

"I think the league does a great job in scheduling, when you come down to the last week of the season and there's so much at stake still," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "It's going to be a fun week."


Arians said he would not be holding any player out of the game against the 49ers as a precaution just to make sure they were healthy for the playoffs.

"We're playing to win the game," Arians said.

Quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) will practice some this week, but Arians said Stanton probably won't play. Arians plans on starting rookie over Ryan Lindley.

"If Drew were truly healthy, we would start him," Arians said. "But I don't see that happening by Sunday."

Arians said the status of guard Jonathan Cooper is to be determined, after his wrist injury and subsequent cast wouldn't allow him to do well in practice. The Cardinals suffered no significant injuries against the Seahawks, Arians said.

That doesn't mean the Cardinals are well. For instance, Arians pegged wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald's knee at around 70 percent after Fitzgerald got hurt in mid-November.

"He's nowhere near what he was playing at before," Arians said.


The Pro Bowl players will be announced Tuesday evening, and Arians said he was hopeful there are some Cardinals named. The Pro Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in late January, a week before the Super Bowl.

"Some guys have reputations and other guys earned it," Arians said. "Sometimes, a guy like (left tackle) Jared Veldheer I think he has played at that level all year, but he's in a new conference and probably won't get the respect factor he deserves."

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