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NFL playoff picture: The door is open for the Patriots to move into a wild card spot against the Cardinals

Related: Patriots will try to recapture some 2014 magic over the next two weeks

New England Patriots v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have been outside the playoff picture for the last two weeks, but they are facing a golden opportunity in Week 14 to move back in. A win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, after all, would allow the team to jump into the seventh seed in a crowded AFC.

Currently the ninth seed with a 6-6 record, the Patriots would be able to leap-frog both the New York Jets and the Los Angeles Chargers in the standings with a victory on Monday. Such a jump would be made possible thanks to New England owning tiebreakers over both its rivals.

Not only did the Patriots sweep the AFC East rival Jets this season, they also own a superior conference record (5-3) when compared to the Chargers (5-4) at the moment. This, in turn, gives them an advantage — if they can capitalize against the 4-8 Cardinals.

For the time being, meanwhile, the playoff picture in New England’s conference looks as follows:

  1. Buffalo Bills (10-3)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
  4. Tennessee Titans (7-6)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)
  6. Miami Dolphins (8-5)
  7. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)

On the bubble: 8. New York Jets (7-6), 9. New England Patriots (6-6)

Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 10. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8), 11. Las Vegas Raiders (5-8), 12. Cleveland Browns (5-8), 14. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1)

Eliminated: 15. Denver Broncos (3-10), 16. Houston Texans (1-11-1)

At the moment, FiveThirtyEight calculates the Patriots’ playoff odds at 25 percent — the ninth highest such number in the conference. A win over the Cardinals would increase that number to 39 percent, but it would still only be eighth and lower than the Chargers’ 55 percent.

Why? Because L.A. faces a significantly easier schedule down the stretch. Of course, the Patriots winning their upcoming games against Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Miami and Buffalo would answer any questions about the team’s status as a postseason contender. In fact, even a 3-1 finish might be enough to sneak in.

Before any of that, however, New England needs to take care of business on Monday.