After a week 15 that featured surprise results such as the San Francisco 49ers losing to the Atlanta Falcons, the NFC playoff picture is becoming more clear. At the start of week sixteen, the Seattle Seahawks are currently in first place and the Green Bay Packers are in second.
The Packers kept in position for a first round bye after barely beating Chicago, who almost tied the game by pitching the ball back and forth to each other at the end of the game. The game should not have been that close in the first place, but the Packers did ultimately end up winning. Again, all they have to do is win out and they will get the second seed, which comes with a first round bye and at least one home playoff game.
However, the Packers can clinch the NFC North and guarantee themselves no lower than a 3 seed on Monday, and all they have to do is beat the Minnesota Vikings. If the do lose this week they drop to the 3 seed if the Saints win. However, they can still win the NFC North if they beat the Detroit Lions in week 17.
The Packers, Saints, Seahawks and 49ers can all still get the first seed. For the Packers to get it, they would need some help. First, either the 49ers have to lose to the Los Angeles Rams, or the Seattle Seahawks have to lose to the Arizona Cardinals. Both of these are possible, but only one of them needs to happen. Here is the kicker: Which ever of those two teams loses this week, must then win when the Seahawks and 49ers play in week 17. Alternatively, if they both lose this weekend then the Packers just need to win out.
As for division winners, only the New Orleans Saints have cliched their division. Three other teams in the NFC have already punched their ticket to the playoffs whether they win their division or not:
- Green Bay Packers
- San Francisco 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks
There are also clinching scenarios for other teams around the conference. The Dallas Cowboys can clinch a playoff spot and the NFC East if they win this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. If they end up losing, the Eagles end up winning the division if they win again in week 17. If both teams end up 8-8, the Cowboys hold the tiebreaker even if they lose this week.
The Minnesota Vikings can clinch a playoff spot if they beat the Packers, or if the Los Angeles Rams lose to the San Francisco 49ers.
If the Cowboys win and the Vikings win and/or the Rams lose, the six NFC teams will be set, it will just be a matter of seeding after the week 17 results.
Below is a complete breakdown of the NFC:
In playoff position
- Seattle Seahawks (11-3, NFC West leader)
- Green Bay Packers (11-3, NFC North leader)
- New Orleans Saints (11-3, NFC South leader)
- Dallas Cowboys (7-7, NFC East leader)
- San Francisco 49ers (11-3, Wild Card)
- Minnesota Vikings (10-4, Wild Card)
In the hunt
Los Angeles Rams (8-6)
Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)
Eliminated from the playoffs
Chicago Bears (7-7)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7)
Carolina Panthers (5-9)
Atlanta Falcons (5-9)
Arizona Cardinals (4-9-1)
Detroit Lions (3-10-1)
New York Giants (3-11)