How the Cardinals can make the NFL playoffs over the Bears

Dec 26, 2020, 9:27 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2020, 7:06 am
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) runs after the catch as San Francisco 49ers cor...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) runs after the catch as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (23) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona Cardinals’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers put their playoff hopes in the hands of the Chicago Bears.

Arizona (8-7) lost to the Niners 20-12 on Saturday but still holds the third and final NFC Wild Card playoff slot entering Sunday morning.

However, Chicago (7-7) will kick off against the Jacksonville Jaguars at 11 a.m. MST on Sunday. The Bears have a chance to leave Week 16 with the No. 7 seed because they have a tiebreaker over Arizona.

How do the Cardinals keep their playoff chances alive?

Simply, their season finale at the Los Angeles Rams is a must-win unless the Bears lose both of their remaining games.

Chicago will make the postseason regardless of an Arizona win if it goes 2-0 and the Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The team’s equal records (9-7 in this scenario) and conference records (7-5 in this scenario) would make the teams’ records against common opponents the tiebreaker.

Both teams played the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants.

The Bears have already gone 3-2 against that group. Arizona’s best-case finish would be 2-3 against those teams if it beats Los Angeles in Week 17.

In more simple terms, Arizona will lose its playoff spot if one of two things happens:

1. The Bears go 2-0 against the Jaguars and Packers and the Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon.

2. The Cardinals lose to the Rams, and Chicago goes 1-1 over its last two games as both teams finish 8-8. If Arizona loses and the Bears beat the Jaguars but lose to the Packers, it will come down to commons opponents. Again, that would be in Chicago’s favor. If the Bears lose to Jacksonville and beat the Packers, they will win the tiebreaker with a better conference record.

Of course, Arizona will make the postseason regardless of its final game if Chicago loses both of its remaining games.

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How the Cardinals can make the NFL playoffs over the Bears