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Saints win and in, Cardinals need a win and Saints loss

Arizona Cardinals v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The 49ers became the third NFC team to clinch a playoff berth on Monday night, joining the Seahawks and Panthers. Three playoff spots remain.

One of those three will go to the winner of Sunday’s Eagles-Cowboys game and another will go to the winner of Sunday’s Packers-Bears game. The final playoff spot will go to either the Saints or the Cardinals.

The Saints have the much easier path to the playoffs: If they win at home against the Buccaneers on Sunday, the Saints are in the playoffs. Even if the Saints lose to the Buccaneers, they’ll go to the playoffs if the Cardinals lose to the 49ers.

The Cardinals’ playoff hopes come down to beating the 49ers and hoping the Bucs can upset the Saints. The Cardinals and Saints are both 10-5, and the Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker from beating the Cardinals in Week Three, so the Cardinals only make the playoffs if they finish with a better record than the Saints.

Arizona has had a surprisingly strong season and may finish at 11-5, far better than almost anyone predicted. But that probably won’t be good enough to make the playoffs.

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50 Responses to “Saints win and in, Cardinals need a win and Saints loss”
  1. cardsfann1 says: Dec 24, 2013 7:58 AM

    I’ve never been more of a Bucs more than I am right now! I live deep in the heart of “Who Dat” country so I am going to have fun this week. I just don’t know if Bucs can beat the Saints in NOLA. I have no worries about the Cards beating San Fran in the desert. That defense will shut Gore and Kaep down…

  2. tvjules says: Dec 24, 2013 8:01 AM

    Arians = Coach of the Year again.

  3. unbridledsexy says: Dec 24, 2013 8:19 AM

    The NFC West is a powerhouse. Best division in the NFL right now. Hell, even the Rams will jump up and punch you in the teeth if you take your eyes off of them for a split second.

  4. The Pittsburgh Steelers says: Dec 24, 2013 8:22 AM

    The Steelers are precious. Through God’s divine light, we will enter the playoffs where we will unleash our vengeance upon thee.

  5. titansbro says: Dec 24, 2013 8:24 AM

    I get conferences & divisions & all & I know this will never change, but how great would it be if they just took the top 12 teams by record? I mean, some teams get fat beating up on bad teams in bad divisions & then a team that plays in the best division in football goes 10-6 or 11-5 & can’t get into the playoffs? Something wrong with that in my book.

    Possible Division winners
    Colts 11-5 or 10-6 (awful division)
    Bengals 11-5 or 10-6 (so-so division)
    Patriots 12-4 or 11-5 (awful division)
    Eagles or Cowboys at best 10-6 or 9-7 (bad division)
    Bears or Packers 9-7 or 8-8 (so-so division)

    Cards will be 3rd in the division with 10 or 11 wins. It’s nuts.

  6. jrazz22 says: Dec 24, 2013 8:37 AM

    At least a team from that great NFC North will get in…because of a couple thousand miles.

  7. ninerswilldominatelikebefore says: Dec 24, 2013 8:58 AM

    the saints are a finesse team who can’t win on the road, i hope somehow they dont get it. The cardinals are more deserving although more dangerous our niners will take care of them this weekend.

  8. sippindasyzurp says: Dec 24, 2013 9:03 AM

    Before anyone goes off about a 10-6 or 11-5 team not getting in just remember that it was these same Arizona Cardinals with Kurt Warner at QB that won that divison at 9-7 in 2008 and eneded up hosting the NFC Championship game and going to the Super Bowl. So deal with it, it is just the cycle of the NFL.. I would be in favor for reseeding the conference 1-6 though based on record, although I think a team who wins the division deserves a playoff spot at a minimum.

  9. infectorman says: Dec 24, 2013 9:05 AM

    The last time NO won a road game against a team of significance was week 5 in Chicago, on October 6th. Even though Chicago’s was 3-1 at the time, they’ve now been exposed defensively as horrific. A good Saints road win none the less.
    If I’m and HONEST Saints fan, I’ve got serious doubts about the Sean Payton lead Saints.

    Can win on the road and can’t win outside.
    Fact.
    Until proven otherwise

  10. bobleblah says: Dec 24, 2013 9:08 AM

    They should add 1 wild card team, and eliminate one buy in each conference. The buy team gets the week off and the 3 wild cards play the 3 other division winners. We get two extra playoff games on wildcard weekend, and the divisional round will carry on like before.

    you should pay me for that one Goodell.

  11. kingpel says: Dec 24, 2013 9:10 AM

    Saints beat Arizona head to head. Turns out that was a big game.

  12. mickmars says: Dec 24, 2013 9:19 AM

    Sucks that the Cards are probably not going to get in. Who do you think has the potential to do more damage? A Saints team that can’t win on the road or in cold weather, or a Cards team that just broke Seattle’s vaunted home win streak? It is what it is, but it sucks that a team with,at the very least 10 wins, in the hardest division in all of pro football, is going to be watching the playoffs on TV.

  13. rainponcho87 says: Dec 24, 2013 9:31 AM

    The division structure means some teams with good records will be left out, but without it, I think you lose some of the great history of the game, the rivalries. Those rivalries have meaning because they are against division opponents and have playoff ramifications. If the Philly-Dallas game means no more than Dallas-Jaguars, then I think that is a step backward. Also, if you went to the teams with the best records going to the playoffs, then strength of schedule would mean everything. You would have teams who played a really tough schedule missing the playoffs to a team with a soft schedule. At least division opponents have a very similar schedule.

  14. vietnambob2473 says: Dec 24, 2013 9:38 AM

    Playoffs will expand to 8 teams per conference in the offseason, book it

  15. skinsgal4life says: Dec 24, 2013 9:40 AM

    When the Cards were in the Super Bowl a few years back, I was rooting for them all the way. Even though they lost, it was amazing how they came back against Pittsburgh in the second half. I think Arians is Coach of the Year–over Andy Reid.

  16. saints12013 says: Dec 24, 2013 10:09 AM

    Man, a lot of Saints haters on this thread. How are the Cardinals more deserving of a playoff spot ? Why cause they beat the Seahawks ? Big deal, its a division game, anything can happen in those games. Funny how nobody brings up the fact we were 11-5 and had to go on the road and play a 7-9 Seattle team a few years ago.

  17. saints12013 says: Dec 24, 2013 10:18 AM

    I can tell there are a lot of stupid fairweather fans of the NFL out there simply by what they just saw is what they think their gonna keep seeing. Every week in football is different. What we all just seen in week 16 is all gonna change in week 17 and then when the playoffs start we’re gonna see some more different things. I can tell there are a lot of little kids on this board thinking they know about the NFL but probably only been watching for 2 years.

  18. saints12013 says: Dec 24, 2013 10:27 AM

    Perfect example of my point, last season Arizona lost at Seattle 58-0. So when they arrived in Seattle a few days ago, does anybody really think that was gonna be the same outcome ? No, it was pretty much the opposite.

  19. saints12013 says: Dec 24, 2013 10:31 AM

    Another example of my point, New England lose to a mediocre Miami team and then come back anf trounce The Super Bowl champs the next. Miami gets a great win against the Pats and then doesn’t even score against the Bills. Baltimore shows all the heart in the world against Detroit on a Monday night and then get destroyed in their own building. EVERY WEEK IS DIFFERENT !!!!!!!

  20. saints12013 says: Dec 24, 2013 10:37 AM

    And for all the people on the Carolina bandwagon, please wake up. That team couldn’t even move the ball on the Saints Defense, until the final drive. What makes people think their gonna have success against A Seattle, or San Fran, or even the Saints ? All teams that have won some playoff games. Carolina=One and Done even if they get the 2nd seed. P.S. Luke Kuechly (a great player) gets away with more murder than any defender in the league.

  21. thekingdave says: Dec 24, 2013 10:38 AM

    Hahaha, says the guy who sounds like a 9 year old.

  22. kappy32 says: Dec 24, 2013 11:12 AM

    The NFL is amazing sometimes. If you tell a team in Training Camp that they’re going to win double digit games, they will tell you that will land them in the playoffs. It appears that is far less true than it should be. Not too long ago there was a season where my NY Football Giants wound up going 10-6 & missing the playoffs. There was also the Matt Cassel-led Patriots team that went 11-5 & missed out in the tournament the year Brady went down with his torn ACL. Then, on the flip side, in Pete Carroll’s first year at the helm of the Seahawks, they went 7-9 & stunned the 11-win Saints at home in the first round. Also, the 2011 Giants were only 9-7 when they ran through the playoffs, on the way to capturing their second Super Bowl in 4 years. It seems as though something is wrong when an 11-5, or 10-6 Cardinals team doesn’t make the playoffs, yet a 8-8 Cowboys team, or the 9-7 Eagles, and possibly a 8-7-1 Packers team makes it. However, I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. What it does is emphasize the importance of divisional games. Had the Cardinals won another game against the 49ers or Seahawks & lost a non-divisional game or 2 they have already won, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  23. hpeters77 says: Dec 24, 2013 11:13 AM

    If the cards wanted to play in the playoffs they should have beat the Saints head to head.

  24. justintuckrule says: Dec 24, 2013 11:17 AM

    Goodell botches everything in his path but he at least got week 17 right by putting all games with playoff implications in the later time slot. This way, both N.O. and AZ will be playing hard.

    By the way…..Bucs will win. Last week’s heartbreak loss to Car still stings. N.O. won’t get off the mat. I don’t care this game is in N.O. Chins up Cards fans. Handle yo’ biz and you’ll be heading to Philly to blast the Eagles.

  25. cmsaint9 says: Dec 24, 2013 11:35 AM

    The saints wont keep playing how they have been. To much pride and to mich talent. They will make some noise in the tournament. The D is for real. Last 3 sb winners were 9-11 win teams. All you need is a seat at the table.

  26. NotoriousKDV says: Dec 24, 2013 12:01 PM

    If the Cards do happen to win on Sunday and make it to 11 wins and don’t make the playoffs then it will be a shame. I’m not a Cards fan at all. Just sick of this nonsense in sports where the people in charge feel like divisions matter more than wins. How do you tell a team that busts their tails all season long and does what they’re supposed to do by winning 11 games that they can’t make the playoffs because some other team won their division even though they only won 8 games(which is what I think will happen Sunday with Green Bay whether or not Rodgers plays).

    I hope the NFL goes the way of the NHL soon and at the very least trims the league down from 8 divisions to 4. They can still figure out how to get their rivalry games in every year without the need of 8 divisions.

    Instead though they’ll probably use this year as an example of why the playoffs should be expanded. They don’t need to be expanded, they just need to be altered so you have the 6 best teams in each conference record wise making the playoffs period instead of the current emphasis on division winners.

  27. mrwalterisgod says: Dec 24, 2013 12:13 PM

    I really want the New Orlean Saints to miss the playoffs. So sick of hearing what a Godsend Drew Brees and all the excuses for when he plays poorly.

    Soft team that’s nothing without their dome full of inebriated welfare recipients chanting ‘who flat? We flat!’.

  28. southpaw79 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:21 PM

    The Cards should be rooting for the Seahawks as well. If the Seahawks are dominating the Rams by half time, the Niners will probably pull their starters. I am not saying the Cards “NEED” the Niners to sit their starters to win, but they do lead the league in points off of turn overs, Palmer Ints are more costly against the Niners than they were last week against the Seahawks. It would be better for the Cards if the Niners were not playing for the division.

  29. coolherc says: Dec 24, 2013 12:26 PM

    If the Cardinals don’t get in (and it doesn’t appear they will) they have only themselves to blame. Don’t care how hot they might be. Win more football games. Simple as that.

  30. miamisaint3255 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:38 PM

    31 – 7

    Now is it more fair that the team that scored 31 get the tie breaker over the team that scored 7 in their only game this season?

    Don’t rush to decide today. I know its a tough call.

  31. asublimeday says: Dec 24, 2013 12:42 PM

    Missing the playoffs at 11-5 is absolutely brutal

  32. northstarnic says: Dec 24, 2013 12:42 PM

    Other than the NFC west and the panthers, the NFC is just a steaming pile of 5H.IT this year. Taints will lose in the first rd if they get in.

  33. griblets says: Dec 24, 2013 12:45 PM

    Simply comparing records for a division winner vs. a potential wild card team has no relation to prove which team had a better season, because their schedules were very different. With 32 teams, they can’t all play each other. Divisions allow teams in the within each division to play like opponents in all but 2 games; 6 division games, 4 against the same AFC division, 4 against the same NFC division. Some divisions will play two tough divisions, and some will play two weak divisions. As it relates to teams within any given division, their records are compared to teams with like schedules, proving which team within the division has had the best season to represent the division in the playoffs. Therefore, winning the division is the most important goal for a team to make the playoffs.

    Wild cards are for teams that have had a good season, but couldn’t win their division. Sometimes they’ll have better records than division winners, but it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, as there is no relationship between their records because of the different schedules.

    Win the division, go to the playoffs. Rely on wild card, possibly get left out.

    I think the system is as perfect as it gets under the current league structure. Which is why I would argue for a relegation system, but that’s another topic…

  34. v2the4 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:48 PM

    The Cardinals have to be looking back at two games they could have won this year…game 1 vs the Rams, where they lost 27-24 and then the game at Philly where they had multiple chances to score in the 4th quarter and didnt, only to lose 24-21….depending on what the Saints do earlier in the day on sunday will determine how both the cards and niners play later on that afternoon

    if the saints handle their business vs the bucs, they will make the playoffs and eliminate the cards..the saints cam win the nfc south with a win over the bucs and a carolina loss to atlanta..if that happens, then saints will have a better division record(5-1 vs 4-2) and they will get the 1st round bye. of course, carolina can get a bye with a win at the dirty birds.

    if the saints mess around and loss to the bucs then the Cardinals will be playing for their playoff lives, and the niners will battle for the division title and to keep the cards out of the playoffs…with the Seattle/Rams game at the time, you can bet a bunch of scoreboard watching will be going on in both games.

  35. johnnyjagfan says: Dec 24, 2013 1:19 PM

    Let’s Go Bucs!!!

  36. trollaikman8 says: Dec 24, 2013 1:37 PM

    Is there any doubt that Bruce Arians is coach of the year?

    In that brutal division?
    With that interception machine at QB?

    I’m neutral on the Cardinals but Arians is very admirable…..now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to Jason Garrett’s daily media briefing.

  37. saintsly says: Dec 24, 2013 1:45 PM

    If you gotta play…………..
    Might as well win …………

    Thats why they play the game !!!

    Go Saints………….Who Dat !!!

  38. dadofthedecade says: Dec 24, 2013 1:46 PM

    Wonder if the 49ers will tank it, since they’ve already got a spot. You’ve got to think they’d rather keep New Orleans out of the playoffs than Arizona.

  39. friscokid49 says: Dec 24, 2013 1:54 PM

    Cardinals would be in the playoffs if the Saints were not gift wrapped a victory by the Refs.

    I hope the Bucs can upset the Saints so that all the WildCards are from the West.

  40. raideralex99 says: Dec 24, 2013 2:03 PM

    So if the Cards win and dont make the playoffs … the refs are really to blame with all the bad calls in the Eagles game.

  41. skinsfan91 says: Dec 24, 2013 2:44 PM

    11-5 and not even a wild card. That just ain’t right if it happens to the Cards.

  42. elibestqbever says: Dec 24, 2013 2:48 PM

    To the cards fans who are complaining about not making playoffs at 10 or 11 wins. The year you went to superbowl you were 7-9 so it kinda evens out.

  43. shlort says: Dec 24, 2013 3:03 PM

    The Cardinals could finish 11-5 and sit home for the playoffs. Brutal, but it has happened before. A couple times in recent history teams missed the playoffs at 11-5.

    In the 1960s, the Baltimore Colts had only one loss and missed the playoffs on a tie breaker. They did it a little different back then, but can you imagine having only one loss and the team you lost to had only one loss and you missed out on post season play?

  44. goodknave says: Dec 24, 2013 4:11 PM

    The Cardinals were 9-7 that year, not 7-9. I understand your point, but might as well be accurate.

  45. saintsnation55 says: Dec 24, 2013 6:53 PM

    Cardinals should have one only one more game the blowout loss to the saints 31-7… They miss it because that’s how life goes! So stop this crying and man up. Life sucks, they had a chance and they blew it. Saints win against the bucs and cardinals can watch them from there couch! Can’t wait!

  46. coachmcc775 says: Dec 24, 2013 8:56 PM

    As a Saints fan I am very disappointed in our road games this year. But for anyone to say we don’t deserve to get in if we win is just plain stupid ignorance. We beat Arizona and San Francisco this year. Week deserve a playoff birth if we win. Neither team can say they are better than us until we play again. If either beats us then they can say they were better. But until then when you want to know who is better look at head to head.

  47. carl1422 says: Dec 24, 2013 10:46 PM

    Okay lets get this straight even with the win vs. The miners and a saints win the Cardinals will go 11-5 which given is a excellent record comparing the teams and the division they have faced! Look at they’re schedule alone and they had one of the toughest out their and they are 11-5 even if they don’t make the playoff they now know and so does the rest of the NFL that they are a team that is to be reckoned with, that the defense is one of the most dynamic defense in the league although their QB is off and on they still did great they should be confident and a even stronger team next year! See how dominant they will be when they pick up some great new players they are a young strong and developed team that should be reckoned with cardinals will come back either way with an even better team next year watch!

  48. musicman495 says: Dec 24, 2013 11:13 PM

    friscokid49 says: Dec 24, 2013 1:54 PM

    Cardinals would be in the playoffs if the Saints were not gift wrapped a victory by the Refs.
    ————————-
    Gee, how many bad calls does it take for the Cards to lose to the Saints 31-7? Or are you still whining about the 49ers loss to the Saints, where the refs missed a Saints TD and safety on bad calls? Grow up.

  49. 64post says: Dec 25, 2013 12:05 AM

    asublimeday says:
    Dec 24, 2013 12:42 PM
    Missing the playoffs at 11-5 is absolutely brutal

    11-5? You’ve got one more loss coming. 10-6 is how you’ll finish

  50. txnative61 says: Dec 25, 2013 3:42 AM

    Games have rules, and leagues have playoff seedings. The NFL wants to keep every part of the country interested in the playoffs as long as possible, so they have divisions, and within each division there has to be some reward for being champion. Tough for the Cardinals, especially if they beat the top two teams these last two weeks. Not likely the NFL changes the divisional structure. What could and should change is home-field in the Wild Card going to the division winner regardless of record. Best example was the Saints at Seahawks a few years ago, but the Seahawks also had to play in that Redskins pigpen last year as well, losing their starting DE. I see no rational for not changing it. Division winners are getting a break just being in the playoffs with poor records, and don’t deserve the advantage.

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