Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals haven’t let fate, injuries, or a wild NFL season stop them from winning games. At 10-2, the Cardinals and their young star quarterback entered Week 14 with the league’s best record and an excellent opportunity to have home-field advantage when the playoffs begin next month.
Although Murray and the Cardinals won’t know yet whether or not they’ll be at home throughout the postseason, they can clinch a playoff spot on Monday, Dec. 13. Here’s what needs to happen.
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals can clinch a playoff berth with a Week 14 victory
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they cannot clinch the NFC West in Week 14. Assuming all works in their favor on Monday night, the earliest they can do so is in Week 15 against the woeful Detroit Lions.
However, the Cardinals do have a win-and-in scenario (or a tie-and-in) on Monday. Arizona will clinch its first postseason berth since 2015 if Murray and teammates defeat Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams. The Cardinals have only reached the playoffs five times since moving to Arizona ahead of the 1988 season.
Murray threw two touchdowns in a 37-20 road victory against the Rams on Oct. 3. Cardinals running back James Conner scored twice, and teammate Chase Edmonds averaged 10 yards per carry on 12 attempts.
Murray and the Cardinals also have other ways they can secure a playoff berth
Murray and the Cardinals might not even need a win or tie on Monday night, depending on how Sunday’s games play out. Although the odds are against the required chaotic events happening, we’ll list them anyway.
First, the Cardinals need the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers to tie. Arizona also needs the New York Jets to upset or tie the New Orleans Saints. Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals need to defeat the San Francisco 49ers; a tie won’t work there.
Of those three outcomes, Cincinnati winning at home is the only one that sounds feasible. Sorry, Jets fans.
The Cardinals’ clinching scenarios would have looked far different had the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night. A Vikings loss would have meant the Cardinals only needed a 49ers loss (or the Saints and Panthers losing or tying) to seal their playoff ticket. Way to go, Chase Claypool.
What other teams can clinch a postseason berth in Week 14?
Depending on how Week 14 unfolds, as many as three teams — and as few as zero — can secure a playoff berth. Interestingly, none of those teams reside in the AFC.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can clinch the NFC South if the Panthers and Saints each lose or tie; the most important thing is both teams losing. The Vikings’ victory means the Buccaneers cannot clinch a playoff berth unless it is the NFC South. We know it sounds strange to us, too.
Elsewhere in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers will secure a playoff berth if they beat the Chicago Bears and the Saints and 49ers lose. If the Packers win but the Saints and 49ers both tie, Green Bay needs the Rams to lose on Monday night.