Can the Cardinals Get the No. 2 Playoff Spot? They Gotta Beat Green Bay First

There is a legitimate chance that the Arizona Cardinals could earn the No. 2 seed for the 2009 playoffs, but some things need to happen -- a lot of things.

First and foremost, the Cards need to beat Green Bay on Sunday. Given everything else that needs to happen -- all of which are out of the Cardinals hands -- beating up on the Packers may be the easiest.

The rest of the scenario that needs to play out to give the Cards the No. 2 spot and a first-round bye is more complicated.

The Chicago Bears' win over Brett Favre and the Vikings on Monday night opened the door for all sorts of possible seeding outcomes in the NFC. For the Cards to get the No. 2 seed, the Vikings need to lose, which is something the Norsemen have been doing quite frequently as of late.

However bad the Vikings may be -- at the moment, of course -- their opponent on Sunday is not exactly the ideal candidate the Cardinals would have in mind when needing Minnesota to lose again.

The Vikings are playing the Giants in Minnesota. Those are the same Giants who were nearly laughed out of their last game ever at Giants Stadium last week, after losing to the Carolina Panthers 41-9.

The Vikings are only half of the equation -- the other game the Cards will need to watch is Dallas vs. Philadelphia.

The game is in Dallas, and the Cards need "America's Team" to put a stop the Eagles' six-game win streak.

If the chips fall in favor of the Cards and each of those scenarios play out, the Cards would get the No. 2 seed.

If not, the Cards would likely play the Packers -- again -- in the first round of the playoffs unless Dallas loses to Philly, and Minnesota wins, which creates a whole different web of statistical what-if's that Stephen Hawking would have trouble sorting out.

The statistical complexity could be null and void by game time, though. The Vikings -- the key to any chance the Cards have at a No. 2 seed -- play the early game on Sunday. If they win by the time the Cards take the field for the afternoon game, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt probably will bench the starters and let the chips fall as they may, which may be the best strategy if he doesn't want to show his hand to the Packers (his potential first-round opponent).

Whisenhunt seems like he's playing for keeps, though.

"I think that we'll go ahead and plan and prepare like we're playing Green Bay for a game of significance," he tells the National Football Post. "If that changes, at least we've gotten a good week of preparation in because there's a chance we could play a Saturday game [in the playoffs] -- and that would be a short week."