TEMPE, Ariz. -- With eight games left this season, the Arizona Cardinals find themselves on the outside of the NFC playoffs, but not by much.
Obviously, it’s a matter of winning out, but it’s never too early to break down the race for the Wild Card.
As it stands today, the top four seeds are No. 1 Seattle (West), No. 2 New Orleans (South), No. 3 Detroit (North) and No. 4 Dallas (East). The Wild Cards are No. 5 San Francisco (West) and No. 6 Carolina (South).
At 4-4, the Cardinals sit at No. 9, behind No. 7 Chicago and No. 8 Green Bay.
With the first tiebreaker for the wild card being head-to-head record, if the Cardinals can't finish with a better record than the Panthers or the Lions, they need to tie Carolina or have either Chicago or Green Bay overtake Detroit as the NFC North leader, while the Lions occupy one of the two wild-card spots with the second-best record in the North.
The Lions play the Bears on Sunday and then the Packers on Thanksgiving.
The Panthers, however, have a tough stretch coming up. They play San Francisco and New England in their next two games, and close out the season at New Orleans, home against the New York Jets and the Saints and then at Atlanta.
Arizona beat Detroit 25-21 on Sept. 15 and then Carolina 22-6 on Oct. 6.
While the NFC North teams may beat up on each other enough to let the Cardinals slide by, the Panthers have to face some of the league’s best to remain in playoff contention.