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NFC Playoff Picture: Falcons win on MNF would eliminate Packers

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Although the Green Bay Packers still remain technically alive in the NFC playoff hunt, that may change this evening.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Monday Night Football in week 15 will determine whether the Green Bay Packers still have something tangible to play for next Saturday night. The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet this evening, with Atlanta holding a one-and-a-half game lead on the Packers for the sixth and final playoff spot.

Atlanta also holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, meaning that the Packers would need to pass them up by a full win in order to find a way into the postseason, in addition to getting additional help. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers are one of the NFC’s worst teams this season and do not appear to be poised to put up much of a fight.

With the Packers now all the way back in tenth place, they would need not only the Falcons to lose out the rest of the way but for the three teams ahead of them to each lose a game as well.

Here’s how the standings currently shake out.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles, 12-2 (clinched NFC East)
  2. Minnesota Vikings, 11-3 (clinched playoff berth)
  3. Los Angeles Rams, 10-4 (lead NFC West)
  4. New Orleans Saints, 10-4 (lead NFC South)
  5. Carolina Panthers, 10-4 (Wild Card)
  6. Atlanta Falcons, 8-5 (Wild Card)
  7. Detroit Lions, 8-6
  8. Seattle Seahawks, 8-6
  9. Dallas Cowboys, 8-6
  10. Green Bay Packers, 7-7

Out of the running officially are the following teams:

Washington (6-8), Arizona (6-8), Tampa Bay (4-9), San Francisco (4-10), Chicago (4-10), and the New York Giants (2-12).

If the Packers can take care of their own business against Minnesota and Detroit, that could push them ahead of the Lions in the division regardless of whether the Lions win next week in Cincinnati. The two teams would finish with identical 4-2 division records, as well as identical 7-5 conference records, so the next tiebreaker would be strength of victory — an edge that would likely go to the Packers. The Packers would then need to see Seattle and Dallas each lose one of their final two games, in addition to having the Falcons lose out.

Of course, if Atlanta wins tonight, it is all moot. But for now, there is still a slim, incredibly slim possibility that the Packers could still sneak into the postseason.