- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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A look at what Arizona Cardinals fans should be rooting for as they monitor the NFC playoff race in Week 16:
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
Arizona at Cincinnati: A Cardinals victory. Arizona must win out for any shot at the playoffs. The Cardinals can play this game without worrying about what might be happening in other games. The games most important to Arizona kick off later in the day.
New York Giants at New York Jets: A Jets victory. This would prevent the Giants from finishing better than 8-8. They would be eliminated from contention with a defeat to the Jets because four teams from the NFC North and NFC South already have nine or more victories. Arizona can still get to 9-7. It's tempting to root for the Giants here because they beat Arizona and the Cardinals might lose a wild-card tiebreaker to them, but eliminating the Giants appeals for the sake of simplicity.
Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET
San Diego at Detroit: A Chargers victory. One more Lions victory clinches a wild-card berth for Detroit, hurting Arizona. This one is a no-brainer.
Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET
Philadelphia at Dallas: A Cowboys victory. This scenario, coupled with a Giants victory, delivers a division title to Dallas. The Cardinals did beat the Cowboys, helping them on the tiebreaker front. But a Cowboys victory with a Giants defeat makes things simpler quickly.
San Francisco at Seattle: A 49ers victory. The Seahawks would be eliminated from the playoffs, giving them less incentive to defeat Arizona in Week 17.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Chicago at Green Bay: A tougher call. A Packers victory would eliminate the Bears from contention, but it would also clinch home-field advantage for Green Bay, leaving the Packers with no incentive to beat Detroit in Week 17. The Packers aren't going to lose this game, most likely, so there's little point in rooting too hard, anyway, right? But if the Cardinals need the Lions to lose twice, a Bears-over-Packers upset could help. Green Bay has previously played all-out in Week 17 without anything to gain in terms of playoff positioning, but injuries along the offensive line and elsewhere could demand a more cautious approach this time.
Atlanta at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m. ET: A Saints victory. The Cardinals need Atlanta or Detroit to lose its remaining games. This is an easy call for Arizona fans.
I'm putting together similar dream scenarios for the other NFC West teams. Let me know if you disagree with any of the rooting advice here. I'd be interested in hearing why.
A look at what Arizona Cardinals fans should be rooting for as they monitor the NFC playoff race in Week 16:Saturday, 1 p.m. ET Arizona at Cincinnati: A Cardinals victory.