Arizona Cardinals in play for 1st Seed in NFC
By Erich Becker
With a Carolina Loss, the Arizona Cardinals could lock up home field.
When the Carolina Panthers lost to the Atlanta Falcons as part of the early games on Sunday the Arizona Cardinals knew that, with a win against Green Bay, they would not only secure at least the 2nd seed, but they were still in play for the 1st overall seed in the NFC and full home field advantage, where the team is 6-1 this year.
If the Carolina Panthers loss next week against Tampa Bay, who would love to play spoiler, after their slim playoff hopes died out a few weeks ago, and the Arizona Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks (where just swept by the St. Louis Rams), the Cardinals would take over the number 1 seed.
Why? Tiebreakers. Or, to be more specific, a single time breaker. Since the Cardinals and the Panthers did not play this season, there is no head-to-head tiebreaker.
Because of this, and because the teams are not in the same division, the first tiebreaker is conference record. Because Carolina did lose to Atlanta and could potentially lose to Tampa Bay, both NFC South teams, they would have two losses in the conference even though they share a record with the Cardinals at 14-2. Because the Cardinals would only, potentially, have lost to the St. Louis Rams (NFC) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) they would have a better conference record and would assume ownership of the 1st seed.
Being undefeated does nothing for you for 14 weeks if you lose two games within the conference in this case.
In all likelihood the Panthers will recover from a trip to the Georgia Dome and all will be well, they’ll assume a bye, the 1st seed and we’ll carry on, but every team that went undefeated for six or more games this season, when they lost, they lost twice in a row. New England, Cincinnati, Green Bay and Denver all lost two in a row after falling from the undefeated ranks. Could history hold true in this case?
In any event, the Cardinals are guaranteed a bye week and will be able to watch, rest, and learn who their Jan 16/17 opponent will be from the comfort of Arizona, and they know, at the very least, the Divisional Round will be played here in Glendale.
Should any team knock off the Panthers at home that same weekend, and the Cardinals prove victorious? The NFC Championship Game would be played here, again.