NFL Playoff Picture, Predictions: Cardinals Can Clinch with Win Over Rams, But Here’s What A Loss Would Mean

NFL Playoff Picture, Predictions: Cardinals Can Clinch with Win Over Rams, But Here’s What A Loss Would Mean article feature image
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Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images. Pictured: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

  • The NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape, but which scenarios do you need to watch for when the Cardinals and Rams meet on Monday Night Football?
  • We cover that below, as well as outline the current standings in each conference, plus detail our expert's model predictions for each team's chances to make the postseason.

The first big domino of the NFL playoff picture could fall as soon as Monday night, because if the Cardinals win, they’ll clinch the first berth of 2021 — and the team’s first since the 2015 season. They would also effectively lock in the NFC West with a win, as the Cardinals (10-2) would hold a three-game lead and tiebreaker over the second-place Rams (8-4), meaning the only way Arizona loses the division is if it loses out and Los Angeles wins out.

But what happens if the Cardinals lose to the Rams?

Arizona’s chances of winning the division would fall to 90% with a loss (compared to 99.9% chance with a win) based on our expert’s model. But mostly, it would hurt the Cardinals’ projected chances of securing the NFC’s 1-seed.

With a win, they would have the highest chance of securing the top seed at 54.3% compared to the Packers at 21.4% and the Bucs at 18.1%. But with a loss, our expert’s model would give the Cardinals only a 15.2% chance, which would be third to the Packers at 39.3% and Bucs at 34.8%.

As for the Rams, a win would give them a 9.7% chance of winning the division — still a longshot, sure, but notably better than the near 0% chance they’d have with a loss. A win would also give them a 97% chance of making the postseason compared to the 88% chance a loss would bring.

Now that we know what’s at stake on Monday night, let’s quickly run through the current brackets in each division, followed by the projected chances of making the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl for every team still in the hunt.

Note: All projections are based on the model of Travis Reed, one of the six experts whose models power our NFL PRO Projections, and factor in all Week 14 results apart from Monday Night Football.

NFL Playoff Picture

NFC
1. Cardinals (10-2)
2. Packers (10-3)
7. WFT (6-7)
3. Bucs (10-3)
6. 49ers (7-6)
4. Cowboys (9-4)
5. Rams (8-4)
In the hunt: Vikings (6-7); Eagles (6-7); Falcons (6-7); Saints (6-7); Panthers (5-8); Seahawks (5-8); Giants (4-9); Bears (4-9)
Eliminated: Lions (1-11-1)
AFC
1. Patriots (9-4)
2. Titans (9-4)
7. Bills (7-6)
3. Chiefs (9-4)
6. Colts (7-6)
4. Ravens (8-5)
5. Chargers (8-5)
In the hunt: Browns (6-7); Bengals (7-6); Broncos (7-6); Steelers (6-6-1); Raiders (6-7); Dolphins (6-7)
Eliminated: Jaguars (2-11); Texans (2-11); Jets (3-10)

NFL Playoff Predictions

Team To Make Playoffs To Win Super Bowl
Cardinals 100.00% 14.65%
Packers 100.00% 8.13%
Bucs 100.00% 11.72%
Cowboys 99.96% 6.69%
Patriots 99.63% 21.01%
Titans 99.50% 5.70%
Chiefs 92.62% 8.25%
Rams 91.57% 3.09%
Chargers 81.64% 1.92%
Bills 74.40% 8.80%
Ravens 70.18% 99.50%
49ers 69.79% 1.24%
Colts 64.30% 2.64%
Bengals 42.73% 1.46%
Eagles 41.27% 0.74%
Vikings 34.60% 0.44%
Browns 30.91% 0.36%
Saints 30.77% 0.42%
Broncos 28.95% 0.71%
WFT 19.55% 0.08%
Steelers 8.87% 0.07%
Falcons 7.79% 0.02%
Dolphins 4.26% 0.04%
Seahawks 3.64% 0.08%
Raiders 2.01% 0.00%
Giants 0.50% 0.00%
Panthers 0.45% 0.01%
Bears 0.11% 0.00%
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