Arizona Cardinals Playoff Scenarios: Can they recover from a poor second half of the season?

The Arizona Cardinals' playoff scenarios largely depend on other results, but how high can they finish if they win the NFC West?

The Arizona Cardinals once looked to be on a path for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. However, entering Week 18, the Cardinals’ playoff scenarios are now dependent on the results of other teams. As we look to the NFL playoff picture, what are the potential outcomes for the Cardinals in Week 18?

Arizona Cardinals playoff scenarios for Week 18

For the Arizona Cardinals in Week 18, it all starts with the NFC West division title. The Cardinals are currently one game behind the Rams in the standings, but could still finish above them. Arizona has the advantage in terms of the NFL playoff tiebreakers between the two, so if they can match the Rams record, they will win the division.

In order for that to happen, the Rams have to lose and the Cardinals have to win. If the LA ties, they will take the division, but that seems unlikely given we have seen just one tie all season. If Arizona doesn’t take the division, they will be locked into the fifth seed. They cannot slip any lower and without the division crown, they cannot climb any higher. They can, however, get as high as the second seed with a win, so let’s take a look at each of their scenarios.

What are the scenarios for Arizona to get the second seed in the NFC?

The Cardinals need more help than just the Rams losing if they are to get as high as the No. 2 seed. There is just one scenario that would see the Cardinals finish as the second seed.

  • Cardinals win, Rams lose, and Buccaneers lose

What scenarios need to play out for the Cardinals to be the NFC’s third seed?

If the Cardinals win the division, their floor is the third seed. They have the advantage over the Cowboys based on their victory in Week 17.

Therefore, assuming the Rams lose, the positioning of the Cardinals is essentially down to the Buccaneers’ result. Here is the scenario for Arizona to finish as the third seed.

  • Cardinals win, Rams lose, and Buccaneers win or tie

Arizona cannot finish as the fourth seed in the NFC

As we explained above, the tiebreaker situation means there is no route to the Cardinals finishing as the fourth seed. They will either be the second, third, or fifth seed. All they can do is win in Week 18 and hope the Rams open the door for them to clinch the NFC West division title.

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