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Cardinals on Bye, Checking in on Rest of NFC Contenders

The Arizona Cardinals are off Sunday, but other NFC contenders such as the Packers, Rams and Buccaneers all have important games.

Ultimately, no non-Cardinals games matter to Arizona, which controls its own destiny for the No. 1 spot in the NFC. 

The Cardinals are on a bye week with a 9-2 record, and they hold a one-game lead over the Green Bay Packers for the top seed. 

Arizona also has a 1.5-game advantage over the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West lead. 

The Cardinals are off, but the other top seed contenders in the conference have critical games in Week 12. 

The Dallas Cowboys lost on Thanksgiving to the Las Vegas Raiders. That defeat dropped them two games behind the Cardinals. Dallas and Arizona face each other in Week 17.

The Packers and Rams play each other in an afternoon matchup at Lambeau Field.

Should the Packers win, the Cardinals would be up by two games over the Rams, but only hold a half-game lead over Green Bay. The Packers, who have their bye in Week 13, have the tiebreaker over Arizona resulting from a Thursday Night Football victory in October. 

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The Cardinals have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, but the two sides will play again on Monday Night Football Dec. 13 in Glendale. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who came into Sunday 1.5 games behind Arizona, visit the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are 6-5 having won three games in a row, including a beatdown of the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. 

In the NFC, there is a gap between the top five teams and the rest of the field, and there is a very competitive battle for the sixth and seventh spots in the playoff picture. Those five teams are the only ones in the conference with winning records.

The Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers currently own those two slots with 5-5 records, with the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints only a half-game back. 

The Saints lost on Thanksgiving to the Bills. The Eagles visit the three-win New York Giants Sunday, while the Vikings and 49ers play each other in a potentially crucial game for each teams' playoff prospects.

The Panthers visit the Dolphins Sunday. 

The Cardinals will be back next week to play the Chicago Bears on the road for a chance to be the first team to reach double-digit wins. 

It’s also an opportunity for the franchise to win its 10th game for the first time since 2015, which is a common phrase this year as the Cardinals look to make the playoffs and win their division for the first time since that season.