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The Lookaround: Cardinals stay atop NFC West with win, but Seahawks pass test in Philadelphia

The NFC playoff picture got a little bit clearer ... kind of.

"fiddly dee, diddly-dee!"
"fiddly dee, diddly-dee!"
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Thirteen down, three to go.

The most important stretch of the season, the one that stood out when the schedule was released because the divisional games were packed in December like a decoder ring at the bottom of your Apple Jacks, is now upon us. Only the decoder ring might also be a razor blade.

The Seahawks next three games are the 49ers, at the Cardinals, and then the Rams at home as per usual. That's two home games in three weeks and Seattle will win the division if they win the next three games and most likely be rewarded with a bye week. As things currently stand, Arizona is the number one seed and Green Bay is in limbo until their game against the Falcons on Monday night.

If the Packers win, they'll be second in the playoff standings. If they lose, the Lions will be leading the division and they will be second. There is currently a logjam of 9-4 teams:

Seahawks, Lions, Cowboys, Eagles, and Green Bay could make five if they lose. But Seattle has the best possible conference record, so they are the best 9-4 team of them all as it stands and hold the top spot in the wild card. However, again, if they beat the Cardinals, 49ers, and Rams, they'll be the one or two seed when the playoffs start.

Here is how it happened.

Cards played, Chiefs fade

Kansas City led 14-6 at halftime but did not score in the second half, as Arizona went on to win 17-14. The Chiefs had their chances, but Alex Smith threw an interception in the third quarter and Travis Kelce fumbled away the football in the fourth, and couldn't beat a team starting Kerwynn Williams at running back.


Williams rushed for 100 yards, something that Andre Ellington has not done all season. Whether or not that means something and if Williams is all of a sudden going to help spark Arizona to the wins they desperately need down the stretch remains to be seen, but it's kind of weird that offensive guru Bruce Arians didn't know his best player was on the practice squad.

Larry Fitzgerald returned after missing two games and caught four of nine targets for 34 yards. Drew Stanton was 15-of-30 for 239 yards and a touchdown.

On a note of missed opportunities: The Chiefs have lost three straight games since beating the Seahawks.

Kansas City is now 7-6 and Arizona is 10-3. The Cardinals play in St. Louis next week. They won their last game against the Rams 31-14.

Dat Colt McCoy Offense

The controversy in Washington goes far beyond the name of their football team, but perhaps nothing is more offensive than getting blanked by the Rams at home. (I jk guys, the name is very offensive.)

St. Louis beat the Rrrrrrr-obert Griffin's old team 24-0, and have now won their last two games by a score of 76-0. The amount of incredible context you can slap on the RAMS winning two games 76-0 is as infinite as the universe itself, but let's make like an owl and cut to the center: St. Louis is 5-3 over their last eight games and even if it was the Raiders that they beat 52-0 last week, Oakland did get a pretty easy win today over a "good" team.

It's a good thing that the Rams are not going to make the playoffs after already having lost seven games (it's ridiculously unlikely) but that Week 17 game is not going to be easy. Not by a longshot.

Shaun Hill had 213 yards and two touchdowns without a pick. The Rams defense sacked the Rrrrrrrr-really not good team's quarterbacks seven times. Colt McCoy was injured in the game and could be handing the team back over to Griffin after all. RGIII was 3-of-4 for 33 yards.

St. Louis is now one game back of the 49ers.

49ers? I hardly h8ers

The "rivalry" against San Francisco has become a rival-really doesn't seem to matter anymore. The 49ers lost 24-13 to the Raiders and dropped to 7-6. They are 3-4 over their last seven games including two losses at home and two losses against teams with losing records.

Colin Kaepernick was 18-of-33 for 174 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Going against the once-vaunted San Francisco defense, Derek Carr was 22-of-28, 254 yards, three touchdowns and no interception. Who would have said going into the season that the best quarterback in the bay was Carr?

I'm guessing Dennis Allen, and that got guy fired for it!

If you think the Niners present situation is creating a panic, just wait until you see their future. The stories of Jim Harbaugh going back to college or being traded or just straight-up being fired aren't going away, they have about $150 million already committed to next season's roster, and most of the players they would have to cut to save money are fairly important to their success. From what I can see, the most obvious move is cutting Stevie Johnson and saving $6 million, but then it's just back to finding another weapon to try and make Kaepernick look like a better passer than he actually is.

Kaep had a passer rating of 54.4 against the Raiders today. QBs had a passer rating of 100.9 against Oakland going into the game.

"Doubting" the 49ers just before they play in Seattle seems like a curse, especially since the players will usually "get up" for this game more than any other, but we have yet to see a Harbaugh-led San Francisco team have to play a game when it looks like their season is over. How much will they care next week?


- The Panthers beat the Saints 41-10, Carolina's first win since Week 5. Keep that last sentence in mind as you realize that the Panthers are 0.5-game back of first place in the division if the Falcons lose to the Packers on Monday night. The first wild card will almost certainly be playing a team without a winning record in the first round of the playoffs.

- The Lions beat the Bucs 34-17, their second straight win by that score. Detroit has a good shot at getting a bye week in the playoffs, too. They play the Vikings next week before road games in Chicago and Green Bay.

Golden Tate had four catches for 50 yards and Calvin Johnson reminded us why Tate is a "two" and he is a "one"; Johnson had eight catches for 158 yards. When he's healthy, he's still the guy. However, if Seattle and Detroit met in the playoffs, Richard Sherman might be able to contain Johnson (he has before) but what about Tate? That would be an interesting matchup.

That's it for this week. Well, besides that kinda-important game in Wisconsin tomorrow. What did you see when you looked around today?