Despite a recent lull that’s seen them lose two in a row, the Arizona Cardinals are in a good spot heading into the final three weeks of the season. Led by MVP candidate Kyler Murray, the Cardinals are on the brink of their first postseason appearance since 2015.
It’s been a long road back to relevancy for Arizona. However, a handful of crucial results for the Cardinals this weekend (Week 16) would result in them securing a spot in the postseason.
The Cardinals can simply win/tie their game against the Colts
There are a few ways the Cardinals can secure their place in the NFC playoffs this weekend. However, the easiest path is to simply win their Week 16 game against the Indianapolis Colts. A tie would also guarantee them a place in the playoffs, but a win would undoubtedly look better on the standings.
While controlling your destiny is an ideal scenario for any NFL team, this avenue is particularly challenging for the Cardinals considering their caliber of opponent. The Colts are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, fresh off a decisive Week 15 win over the New England Patriots. Running back Jonathan Taylor is forcing his way into the MVP conversation, quarterback Carson Wentz was just named a Pro Bowl alternate, and the defense is starting to perform on an elite basis.
The game is being played in Arizona, which is good news for the Cardinals. However, they will have to bring their A-game to walk away with a win/tie, and a subsequent playoff berth.
The 49ers’ loss was huge
The Tennessee Titans knocked off the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football this week, and the result was a massive one for the Cardinals.
The loss opens up three additional ways for Arizona to clinch a spot in the postseason. Should the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, or New Orleans Saints lose/tie this weekend, it would secure a playoff spot for the Cardinals.
The Eagles dropping a crucial game to the Jake Fromm-led New York Giants seems unlikely. However, the Vikings face the Los Angeles Rams, and the Saints face the Miami Dolphins. These are both favorable matchups for the Cardinals and their needs.
The Cardinals should be feeling confident
Ultimately speaking, the Cardinals’ best course of action is to simply beat the Colts on Christmas Day. It isn’t an easily achievable task by any stretch of the imagination. However, it would allow them to skip all the game-watching while providing some much-needed momentum after a two-game skid.
With that said, it’s hard to understate how crucial the 49ers’ loss was to the Cardinals’ playoff odds. It gives them three additional pathways to clinch this weekend. The Vikings’ game against the Rams, in particular, feels like a promising matchup for the Cardinals.
The Rams have been one of the top teams in the NFL all season long and are in hot pursuit of the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They will presumably show up ready to perform against Minnesota.