Playoff reality (or possibilties, depending on your view)

Posted by Darren Urban on December 20, 2011 – 9:46 pm

The Cardinals are the 10th seed in the NFC right now. Their playoff chances are very, very slim. They must win their last two games to finish 9-7 and have any measurable hope.

There are two wild card spots up for grabs. The Falcons and Lions are both 9-5, so either one need just win one of their final two games to eliminate the Cards. So one of those teams, at least, must lose both their final two games. The Seahawks won’t matter because the Cards face them head-to-head (and would have knocked them out to go 9-7).  The Cards don’t want to tie the Giants because the Giants beat them; a tie with the Cowboys is OK because the Cards beat them (in a tie for the wild card and not the NFC East title). UPDATE: As has been pointed out to me by a few people, the Cards can’t tie the Giants in a win-out situation because the Giants would win the East in that case. It boils down to the Falcons or Lions losing out (and the Bears losing at least one more).

NFC tiebreakers:
• Atlanta is the No. 5 seed ahead of Detroit based on head to head (1-0).
• Seattle finishes ahead of Chicago and N.Y. Giants based on head to head sweep (2-0).
• Chicago finishes ahead of Arizona and N.Y. Giants based on conference record (6-4 to the Cardinals’ 6-5 and the Giants’ 4-7).
• N.Y. Giants finish ahead of Arizona based on head to head (1-0).

In a nutshell, it’s the Falcons (at New Orleans, home versus a bad Tampa Bay team) and the Lions (at home against San Diego, at a Green Bay team that may not have anything to fight for) to watch.

We’ll obviously know much more after this weekend. Like whether the Seattle at Cards game will mean anything more than just second place in the NFC West.

(To view a breakdown of the NFL’s tie-breaking procedures go to

Posted in Blog | 44 Comments »

44 Responses to “Playoff reality (or possibilties, depending on your view)”

  1. By Jasen on Dec 20, 2011 | Reply

    The Giants must win out to get to 9-7 which, if they do, will mean that they will win the NFC East via a sweep of the Cowboys. Therefore, we cannot end up tied with the Giants for a wild card slot at 9-7.

  2. By CreditCard on Dec 20, 2011 | Reply

    Just like the Cards the Bengles and Seahawks are also on the fringe of the playoff picture. These next two games will be a good measuring stick for the Cards. In reality these two games are the Cards play-off type games. If the Cards do well, then there is good optimism for next year, on the other hand — if they do poorly, they demonstrated they are still not ready to serioucly compete, and be a top rated team. The Seahawk game — might be a real war, if both teams are 8-7 after 12-24 — s/b a fun game for both clubs to see if they can play under preasure.

  3. By IndyCard51 on Dec 20, 2011 | Reply

    I agree the Cards’ hopes are slim at this point, but they aren’t as daunting as they may appear on the surface. Their #10 position in the NFC race is a bit misleading, given that they no longer have to worry about watching the scoreboard to see what the Giants, Seahawks, or Cowboys do. If the Cards win out, none of those teams will finish ahead of them in the wildcard race.

    The loser of the Dallas-New York game in Week 17 will be behind the Cardinals regardless (If Dallas loses, they will be 9-7 with the Cards’ owning the tiebreaker. If New York loses, they will be 8-8 at best.)

    One has to assume Chicago will be out of the picture as well after traveling to Green Bay this week.

    As you mentioned, Detroit and Atlanta are now the main focus. Given that they face extremely difficult opponents this week, it’s highly likely the suspense will carry on into Week 17–provided the Cards take care of business. At that point, anything can happen.

    Who knows, perhaps the Bucs will be inspired to save Raheem Morris’ job in the final week against Atlanta. The Falcons, after appearing on Monday Night Football against the Saints, will be coming off a short week and playing a Bucs team that has already beaten them once this season.

    Improbable? Sure. But certainly not the strangest thing that has happened in the sports world this year. One could argue that the baseball Cardinals unlikely late-season turnaround and subsequent World Series run occurred in the face of far greater odds than what this Arizona Cardinals team currently faces.

    The biggest obstacle may very well be beating Cincinnati. Cardinals fans will be absolutely sick if the Cards are unable to prevail this week only to watch Atlanta or Detroit come back to the field and finish 9-7…

  4. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 20, 2011 | Reply

    “Dear Darren,
    Some of my friends have said there is no way the Cards make the playoffs?
    Is this true?
    Signed, Casey.”

    Casey –
    Your friends are wrong.
    These are the same people who use “defence” and “loosing” when posting. They also thought signing McNabb was a good idea. Everyone with half a brain knows that signing Orton would have been better.
    Yes, Casey, there is a chance the Cards make the playoffs. It’s as real as the Seahawks making the postseason last year and advancing. How dreary would it be if the team we rooted for had no hope, no inspiration?
    There would be no Sundays without honeydew excuses for why the trash is piling up in the living room or why the family cat was lost in the 18 inch tall lawn. It would be why the garage is not parkable for a vehicle or why the checking account shows a $500 charge for beer.
    Not believe in a playoff chance for the Cards? You might as well not believe that Tebow’s mechanics aren’t correct or that Tom Brady still looks kind of normal.
    Just because Skelton doesn’t have great stats does that mean he can’t win games? You can everyone dissect his stats, but Casey, that’s all he does -win games. Sometimes you cannot explain the unexplainable, look at Paul Cavisi.
    You can look at the first 7 games and then the second, shake your head at the statistics and wins and still never wrap your head around the chance the Cards have. Only faith and conviction can help you see it’s real and abiding.
    No postseason hopes, Casey? Nay, and ten thousand times nay, should a dream be distinguished by reasoning and common sense.

    Yes, Casey. There is a playoff chance.

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  5. By Corgon on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    If the Giants was 9-7, they would get the division title. We don’t want to tie with the Giants, because they’ll end with 7-9 🙂

  6. By Kevin S on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Giants tiebreaker vs. AZ is irrelevant. If the Giants finish 9-7 they win the NFC East. The only possibly relevant tiebreaker for us involving the East is the one vs. Dallas which we win.

  7. By LB on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    As a little side note, even though the Giants have the tie-breaker over the Cardinals, it doesn’t matter because the only way both teams get in is if they win their final two games and if the Giants win their final two games, with the last one being against Dallas, they win their division. So there is no scenario where they compete with the Cards for a Wild Card spot.

  8. By Larry Secrest on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Actually Darren, N.Y. Giants would not matter.

    (Keeping in mind Arizona has to go 9-7):

    IF Arizona and N.Y. Giants tie at 9-7, that would mean NYG beats Dallas in the final game of the season.

    If Dallas loses this week to Phily they would then be 8-8 for the season. N.Y. Giants would get the NFC East Division Crown.

    If Dallas were to beat Phily and and lose to the N.Y. Giants, they would both end up with 9-7 records and the Giants would still get the Crown due to Head to Head match-up record (N.Y. Giants would have won both).

    So we only need Detroit or Atlanta to lose their last two games and Chicago to lose one. Detroit losing is a better possiblity (againist a San Diego team that still has their own playoff chance) then Atlanta against Tampa Bay.

  9. By Christo on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    We need to handle our business. The head to head records also don’t matter in a multi-way tie. CHI also has to lose once more to either GB or MIN.

  10. By ToneLoc on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    If we win out, there is no way for the Cardinals to tie the Giants. They play the Jets this week. If they lose, they’re at 8 losses and they’re out. If they win, they play the Cowboys next week. If they lose that game, they’re at 8 losses and they’re out. If they win, they win the division and the Cowboys fall into the wild card. However, we already beat the Cowboys.

  11. By D on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    If they don’t get to the playoffs, finishing strong will help this team this offseason. Main priority this summer will be getting Kolb all the reps he can get with his coaches.
    It would be nice if they can get their own players resigned before end of the season so they start this spring/summer off on the right foot.

  12. By Chuck on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    We can doit , We must still have hope.CARDINAL NATION will rise from the ashes and shock the world

  13. By Justin on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply


    We don’t hsve to be concerned with either the Giants or Seahawks. If NY reaches 9-7 they will win their division, and as you mentioned we would have to win and thus eliminate Seattle, if they somehow beat the Niners this weekend.. We would have a better conference record if either or both Detroit and Atlanta lost their final two games.

  14. By bluepitt on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    The Pack didnt have anything to play for when they torched us in 09…They knwe they were in the playoffs.. Mc Carthy wont let up, and I do think the Chargers will show up and dismantle the Lions..The way I have it, It doesnt matter what happens ( NYG, DAL, ATL) if the Bears loose 1 more and Lions loose to SD and GB and we win out, We are the 6th seed.. The rest is just confusing.

  15. By Kevin S on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    One thing’s for sure — after what happened in baseball this year, no one should be counting the Cards out. Heck, even the EAGLES aren’t out (they’re out of the WC but not the division title).

  16. By Peter in Canada on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    I just want to be 9-7, that is the most important thing. If other teams fall on their faces and we make the playoffs then so be it. If they don’t and we are on the outside looking in, we still went 8-1 down the stretch and nobody can take that away.

  17. By Kevin S on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Actually, now that I look at it, the Eagles getting in isn’t all that farfetched. Requires that they beat Dallas this week and NYG loses to NYJ, neither of which would be surprising. Then Eagles need to win last game vs. Washington (likely) and NYG has to beat DAL in their finale. The latter seems the least likely because at that point NYG would be out of it while DAL would be playing for the division title, but the game would be in NY and I could see NYG rising up for what might be Coughlin’s last game even if they were out of it.

    The Eagles probably have a better shot at the playoffs at this point than AZ does.

  18. By Chris Robot on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Not to promote anything else but ESPN has a nice Playoff Machine that you can see the different scenarios and even select who you think or would want to win each weeks matchup. It will then show you who will be what seed, etc. Pretty nifty stuff.

  19. By OhioCardsFan on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    I, for one, just became a big Chargers and Packers fan! (For these next two weeks, anyway). I don’t see the Falcons dropping their final two, so we should really be watching the Lions scoreboard these next two weeks! I know that we need to do our part and win out, but just think how great it would be for us to SOMEHOW make the playoffs! I am excited! GO CARDS!

  20. By joe67 on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Main priority this summer, regardless of what happens, is two new O-lineman, a good Linbacker, and then draft nothng but Defense, except a really good WR if one is available. IMO

  21. By Phoenixraven1 on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Wow media like to make NFC west look like the dogs of the nfl but I think this division could be sout for years to come!

  22. By Pheenic on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Our biggest chance will be the Lions loosing out. I just can’t see the Falcons losing, considering the teams they have left to play.

    So we just need to hope that the Chargers and Packers can finish the Lions off.

  23. By CS on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    2011 year of the comeback “Cardinals” from last to eventialy first. Just like in the mlb. A spooky idea…

  24. By DontTakeLoses on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Hey, we’re in the conversation. All we can ask for after no camp and what has transpired. Love it… better than knuckle sandwich;) go Cards.

  25. By DontTakeLoses on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Joe67. Me too. Exactly as I would draft…except, best player available, we should see that payoff at RB next year when we get him back.

  26. By joe67 on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    @phoenixraven: You’re right about NFC West, but right now the West has 1 more win, collectively than the East, for whatever that is worth to anyone.

  27. By kyle on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Mr. Urban or Darren ,
    this may not be the most ideal blog to ask this question BUT . what was the patrick peterson vs aj green matchups like in college when each went to LSU and Georgia respectively. Also, Green has been hurt lately so i was wondering if he is even going to play .
    Thanks, Kyle (only cards fan in Ohio by the way ! )

  28. By Darren Urban on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Kyle –

    RE: Green vs PP

    I have to look that up. But I plan to do that.

  29. By Brian on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    I’m tired of all this thinking. Lets just see what it is when the regular season is over. Hopefully the NFC teams lose but the Cardinals. That’s what we should hope…

  30. By Kevin S on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Phoenixraven, I was just thinking the same thing a few days ago. With the Cards and Seahawks on winning streaks, the NFC West would be at .500 if the Rams just had one more win (even with Bradford being hurt some of the year, it’s been surprising to me how bad they’ve been). The worst division in the NFC is actually the East at 4 games under .500 — the big-name Cowboys, Giants and Eagles at .500 combined and then the Redskins are 5-9. AFC South is the worst overall.

  31. By Mal on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Indy Card 51-

    Yes, exactly what I was considering, too — think how amazing and improbable it was for the baseball Cardinals to get in the playoffs and win the World Series.

    Very clear, well-reasoned post — especially the last couple lines.

  32. By Scott H on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    After you sort through all of that, don’t the Falcons and Lions both clinch this weekend if they win?

    Really, I don’t even want to think about playoffs this year. Yes, the Cardinals are making a heck of a run here at the end but…the road to the SB is going to go through either Green Bay ( IN GREEN BAY ) or New Orleans ( IN NEW ORLEANS )! The Cardinals are not ready for that.

    Honestly, look at the Seahawks last year…made the playoffs but really, did they belong there??? No, they did not. And everybody knew it, therefore, no one was really taking them seriously. And even after winning a game in the playoffs, everyone knew they were dead meat the nest week, which was exactly what happened. Just me, I just think it’s bogus when teams make the playoffs and you KNOW they don’t really belong there. I’d rather not be one of those teams.

    I say let’s just win out just to keep this wonderful momentum going AND because winning feels so much better than losing AND because it would be amazing to finish at 9-7!!! That would make this season incredible by itself, playoffs or not.

  33. By Eric on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    I was just watching NFL Network and they had a segment titled “so your telling me a chance”. They were talking about what teams still had a chafe at the playoffs and the scenarios for each team to accomplish that. They were talking about the Sea Squaks and their schedule and scenario to get in. I was expecting to see the Cardinals included in this discussion, however, in true NFL Network fashion they REFUSE to talk about anything positive when it come to the Cards, even though we have the SAME RECORD and have a better chance to win our last two games than do the Sea Squaks. I can’t wait to watch the Whiners crush the Squaks and then what will the clowns at NFL Network say? They won’t have a choice! They talked about the dam Chiefs getting in? They just fired their coach for gods sake, and we get no mention? I for one am SICK of NFL Network and their clear disregard for our Football Club.

    Darren, any clue why those guys have absolutely no respect for our team?

  34. By Darren Urban on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    Eric –

    RE: respect

    That’s a question best asked them.

  35. By bluepitt on Dec 21, 2011 | Reply

    @ Scott H
    UHHH 2008 Super Bowl did the cards team belong their? They won the division by default!!!! Some say they didnt belong in the playoffs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. By drummer-1 on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    @ Scott H

    Debbie Downer… Negative Nancy..

  37. By FanSinceLomax on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    Quit complicating this issue.
    The Lions or the Falcons, need to finish 0-2.
    The Cardinals win out and they are in if that happens.

    Just use ESPN’s playoff machine, and mark the cardinals winning both and those teams loses both.

    The Lions will lose both games to the chargers and packers (packers hate them and won’t let them get in, especially at home)
    The Falcons in my opinion will, go 1-1.
    In any case, yes it is that simple.
    Lions lose, we win out, we are in.

  38. By FanSinceLomax on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    “Darren, any clue why those guys have absolutely no respect for our team?”

    Two reasons.
    The Cardinals were bad for a very long time and now the program has turned around. (doesn’t stop them from talking about the lions but that leads to my next point.)
    People are obsessed with back east teams, especially the media.
    The only team out west they care about is the Cowboys or Chargers if they are playing well.
    Even the Broncos get missed, and they focus almost exclusively on Tebow.
    Ignore the press when it comes to opinions.
    If the cardinals play well, the other team played bad and “should have got a easy win” Cowboys, 49ers, ect.
    However if those two teams would have won, they would have got credit for learning how to finish a close game. You know the good teams find a way to win speech.
    That doesn’t apply to the Cardinals when it comes to the media most of the time.
    If we play bad, well we are supposed to be bad, we are the cardinals.
    It has been this way for years, and will probably always be this way.
    The Cardinals will have to win a Super Bowl and prove they can get back there before people give respect.
    Also it doesn’t help that half of the Cardinals fans only show up when the team is winning, not too many teams in the NFL get a 50/50 crowd at home, half filled with the visiting popular team, like the Steelers and Cowboys.
    We have great fans, the real fans that is, but I have to point to the cultural melting pot in the phoenix area for all the different team supporters.

    Ignore the press man.

  39. By FanSinceLomax on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    Scott H
    Can’t tell if you are a troll and I hate the Seahawks for the record.
    That being said, yes they deserved to be there, they did beat the Saints and did advance.
    One of the best parts of the NFL, is seeing people eat their words.
    Like the Cardinals Super Bowl run in 08.
    The NFL isn’t as simple as the teams with the best record always win, over the lower record teams.
    If it was Pro Football betting would fix the everyone’s money problems.
    I am sure you are trolling but if you aren’t please learn about football…
    For your Brain’s sake.

  40. By joe67 on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    Eric, you are so right. NFL Network is nothing more than an extension of the Eastern Sports Network, better known as ESPN. Only diff is they just talk Football. They give about 85% to East Coast teams, 10% to Chicago, Dallas and Green Bay, and the other 5% to the entire rest of the league. Check it out. My %’s are not far off. Its all about the population, which then equates to ratings. Such a shame. Could be a nice alternative to ESPN.

  41. By jasonm on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    ok , it will be a miracle if we go playoffs …but if skeletor pulls this one out in cincy witch i know he will , then he is our guy done deal trade kolb next year sorry but thats the way its gonna be , merry christmas cards fans you too Urbs!

  42. By Larry Secrest on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    you forgot about the Bears. Unless the Falcons lose both, the Bears will need to lose 1 (Packers or Vikings.)

  43. By Eric on Dec 22, 2011 | Reply

    @ Lomax Fan

    I understand all that, and I’ve been around since Lomax also, but my point was they will talk about the Sea Squaks getting in and even with the same record, and a better chance at winning our last two than Seatle, we were not even in the conversation. Remember when TEN had that horrible start a few years ago, and it was a HUGE story? How is the Cards starting 1-6 and coming all the way back, winning in spectacular fashion, not also a huge story? As one of the older franchises in the league, you would think we would get more respect, and trust me, I’ve been around since these guys were in STL, and I understand we have been overall poor, it just pisses me off that we have had such an incredible turn around and the media chooses to dominate the discusion with a QB that doesn’t even complete 50% of his passes.

    @Darren, rest assured I send scathing e-mails to the Network on a regular basis reminding them that their coverage is a joke to real football fans everywhere.

  44. By Scott H on Dec 23, 2011 | Reply

    bluepitt –

    Are you kidding me??? Yes, the 2008 Cardinals absolutely belonged in the playoffs. Won the dividion by default? No. They did have a winning record, at the very least. AND in Kurt Warner, they had a battle-tested QB who knew how to lead this team in those games.

    To everyone else – not really sure my point came across as it was intended, but…whatever. And if some of you truly don’t believe that the Cardinals belonged in the playoffs in 2008, then why are you all calling ME negative??? THAT team looked like it could play with anyone in the NFC playoff field that year and they were beginning their playoff run at home.

    And GIVE ME A BREAK about the Seahawks belonging in the playoffs last year!!! Talk about a team winning a division by default!!! THAT team was sparking discussions everywhere about changing the playoff format because they were getting in as a DIVISION WINNER at 7-9 and teams who were obviously better were sitting at home. I listened to those discussions and was glad they weren’t talking about my team. And beating the Saints last year in Seattle really was no great accomplishment. The Saints were “off” the whole season – not the same team they were the year before – and they were a domed team playing outdoors in January. Check the stats on the success rate of THOSE teams, FanSinceLomax. Maybe your brain ain’t as smart as you think it is.

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