TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's all about the tie-breaker from here on out.
Thursday night's game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons can have an impact for the Arizona Cardinals. If the Saints lose, they'll fall to 8-3. If the Carolina Panthers beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, it will also be 8-3. The two NFC South teams play twice in the final four weeks, but Arizona needs Carolina to stay in the fifth spot because of the tie-breaker. The Cards lost to the Saints in Week 3, eliminating any chance of Arizona overtaking them if they have the same record.
If the Dolphins can upend the Panthers, and the Cards can beat the Indianapolis Colts, both Arizona and Carolina will be at 7-4 with Arizona earning the tie breaker and jumping into the sixth playoff spot. By early next week, Arizona could find itself at No. 5 in the NFC if the San Francisco 49ers lose to the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
All week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has been preaching to his team the importance of every game.
"It's a huge game for both guys," Arians said of the Cardinals and Colts. "They have a big division lead. Like I told our guys last week, we are in the playoffs right now. Every game is win or be done. We have to stay pace with everybody that we are tied with. We now got some help, so that we kind of control our own destiny in a way but we have to win every week."