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2015 NFL playoff picture and scenarios: Cardinals earn bye, Vikings clinch spot on 'SNF'

The Cardinals clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs, while the Vikings secured a postseason ticket by dismantling the Giants on "Sunday Night Football."

There were only three games played on Sunday afternoon, but there were significant playoff implications in two of them. The Green Bay Packers took on the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks played the St. Louis Rams. Both games carried seeding implications, and the final wild card spot in the NFC was of particular note.

The Atlanta Falcons were still technically in the running for a playoff spot after upsetting the Carolina Panthers. They needed the Vikings to lose on Sunday Night Football to stay in the running heading into Week 17.

Minnesota dismantled the New York Giants on Sunday night, however, to lock down a wild card spot, at least. The win set up a Week 17 NFC North title bout against the Green Bay Packers. The game was flexed to Sunday Night Football.

By dominating the Packers on Sunday, the Cardinals clinched a first-round bye in the postseason. On top of that, they still have a shot at the top seed due to the Panthers losing in the early games on Sunday.

On Monday, the Cincinnati Bengals will take on the Denver Broncos and that game has some significant implications as well. The Bengals can clinch a first-round bye with a win, but they will also benefit the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans if they win. A Cincinnati victory guarantees a strength of victory tiebreak over the Indianapolis Colts, so Houston would win the AFC South.

A Broncos loss would also give the Chiefs the lead in the AFC West. A Broncos victory would give them a spot in the postseason, however.


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Here are the current standings entering Sunday:


1. (z) New England Patriots (12-3)
2. (y) Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)
3. Denver Broncos (10-4)
4. Houston Texans (8-7)
5. (x) Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)
6. New York Jets (10-5)

In The Hunt

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6)
Indianapolis Colts (7-8)


1. (z) Carolina Panthers (14-1)
2. (z) Arizona Cardinals (13-2)
3. (x) Green Bay Packers (10-5)
4. (y) Washington (8-7)
5. (x)Minnesota Vikings (10-5)
6. (x) Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

(z) - First-round bye
(y) - Division winner
(x) - Playoff berth

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