Weekend Kickoff: Cardinals-Dolphins impacts playoffs

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null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null null The Raiders, Patriots and Seahawks can clinch playoff spots this weekend. But all three won’t secure postseason berths because their scenarios hinge on Sunday’s Cardinals-Dolphins game (1 p.m. ET, Fox).If the Raiders (10-2) beat the Chiefs (9-3) on Thursday (8:25 p.m., NBC, Night net Network, Twitter), they can clinch a playoff spot if the Cardinals (5-6-1) beat the Dolphins (7-5). The Patriots (10-2) also punch their playoff ticket with a Dolphins loss and a New England win over the Ravens (7-5) on Monday (8:30 p.m., ESPN). MORE: Week 14 Night net Power Rankings | Playoff scenariosThe Seahawks (8-3-1) will be rooting for a Dolphins win, however, because a Cardinals loss coupled with a Seattle win at 6-6 Green Bay (Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox) would clinch the NFC West for the Seahawks. It's the point in the season when almost every game affects playoff scenarios.It all starts Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium with perhaps the best Thursday night matchup of the season. The Raiders and Chiefs appear to be locks for the playoffs. The Chiefs won earlier this season in Oakland. Sweeping the season series would put the Chiefs in the driver’s seat in the AFC West.“Right now they’re the top team in the AFC, so we respect that, we know they’re a good football team,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “They’re very well-coached and they’ve got good football players, so it should be a heck of a game.”Broncos (8-4) at Titans (6-6), 1 p.m. ET Sunday (CBS)The Raiders also can clinch a playoff spot if they win and the Broncos lose. In fact, at this point in the playoff chase, every team chasing the Broncos for the final wild-card spot wants the Titans to win, but they're in a three-way tie atop the AFC South. So the Texans and Colts, who face off Sunday, clearly prefer the Broncos to win.The Titans have been ripping through teams with their ground game and could have success Sunday. The Broncos have the Night net’s fifth-ranked defense and are tops against the pass, but rank just 28th vs. the run.The Broncos probably have the toughest remaining schedule of any playoff contender: After the Titans, they play the Patriots, Chiefs and Raiders.  Steelers (7-5) at Bills (6-6), 1 p.m. Sunday (CBS)The Bills essentially are facing a must-win against the Steelers. The Patriots will win the AFC East, so Buffalo’s path to the postseason is with a wild-card berth. The Bills, who trail the Dolphins in the division, will join the Patriots and Raiders in rooting for Arizona. A Steelers loss also would help the Raiders secure a postseason bid.Beating the Steelers would give the Bills the tiebreaker edge if Pittsburgh doesn’t win the AFC North, where the Steelers are tied with the Ravens.Also contending with the Bills for what would be the final wild-card spot are the three teams atop the AFC South and the Chargers (5-7), who are at Carolina on Sunday.But all of those teams are behind the Broncos.“We know we have to win these four games,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “We’ve got a hot Pittsburgh team here that’s loaded.“That's a huge challenge in front of us. … We’re trying to win these next four games."WEEK 14 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spreadTexans (6-6) at Colts (6-6), 4:05 p.m. Sunday (CBS)The Texans, Colts and Titans will race to the wire in the AFC South with Sunday’s Texans-Colts winner in the pole position.A Texans win would give Houston a series sweep. The Colts have beaten the Titans twice. A 9-7 record might be enough to win the division.The Colts have a couple of potentially tough matchups at Minnesota (6-6) and Oakland before closing against the Jaguars (2-10). The Titans play the Broncos and Chiefs before finishing with division games against the Jaguars and Texans. Houston has the easiest remaining schedule with the Jaguars and Bengals (4-7-1) sandwiched between the Colts and Titans.Cowboys (11-1) at Giants (8-4), 8:30 p.m. Sunday (NBC)The Cowboys can avenge their only loss — in the teams' opener — and move a step closer to securing home-field advantage throughout the postseason.New York has been winning with smoke and mirrors: a bend-but-don’t-break defense and a turnover-prone offense that can’t run the ball. The Giants have to take care of the ball on offense and keep Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott in check, like they did in the opener.Elliott, who leads the Night net with 1,285 rushing yards, was limited to 51 yards on 20 carries in the 20-19 Giants victory. The Giants have the Night net’s fifth-ranked rush defense but are 25th against the pass. Dallas’ other dynamic rookie, quarterback Dak Prescott, needs just 26 passing yards to get to 3,000. He has 19 touchdown passes and only two interceptions for a 108.6 passer rating, third behind only Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.New York’s best defense would be a clock-controlling offense, but to keep Prescott and Elliott on the sideline, the Giants have to find a way to run the ball. The Giants are 31st in rushing and were held to just 56 yards last week in a 24-14 loss to the Steelers.