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NFC Playoff Picture, Week 15: Packers take over NFC’s 2 seed, can clinch playoff spot

Green Bay can lock up a postseason berth with a win and a little help this weekend.

NFL: JAN 22 NFC Championship - Packers at Falcons Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the results of Week 15’s Sunday games across the NFC, the top two seeds in the conference’s standings belong to different teams than they did on Saturday. Coming into the week, the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints were in position for playoff byes. However, those top spots now belong to the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

The Packers were able to narrowly defeat lowly Washington at home, improving to 10-3 on the season. But in the same time slot, the biggest game in the conference was the 49ers’ thrilling 48-46 victory over the Saints. That result pushed the Saints back down into a tie with the Packers, who own the tiebreaker thanks to a superior record inside the conference.

The 49ers then reclaimed the top seed in the conference thanks to the the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams on Sunday Night Football. That was Seattle’s third loss, which pushed them back down out of a tie with San Francisco and into Wild Card territory.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys still hold on to the NFC East lead for another week, despite losing to the Chicago Bears on Thursday. They are a half-game up on the Philadelphia Eagles in the division, with Philly playing on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants. However, with Dallas holding a head-to-head win already this season, they currently hold the tiebreaker even if the Eagles win to pull even at 6-7.

The Rams and Bears kept their playoff hopes alive this week, but the Packers can effectively drive in the dagger to the Bears’ season this Sunday. A Packers win would all but eliminate the Bears from contention, as Chicago would need both the Vikings and Rams to lose their final three games to give the Bears a shot at the final Wild Card spot. Meanwhile, the Packers will clinch at least a playoff berth with a win and a Rams loss in Dallas.

Here are the current standings of the teams still in contention for the NFC playoffs — note that Tampa Bay holds a better record than Philadelphia, but has been eliminated from contention.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (11-2, NFC West leader)
  2. Green Bay Packers (10-3, NFC North leader)
  3. New Orleans Saints (10-3, NFC South leader)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (6-7, NFC East leader)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (10-3, Wild Card)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (9-4, Wild Card)

Los Angeles Rams (8-5)
Chicago Bears (7-6)
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)*

Eliminated from the playoffs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)
Carolina Panthers (5-8)
Atlanta Falcons (4-9)
Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1)
Detroit Lions (3-9-1)
Washington (3-10)
New York Giants (2-10)*

* Eagles play Giants on MNF. Philadelphia is still alive for the NFC East division title