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NFC Playoff Picture, Week 17; Packers have chance to clinch top seed with help

The Arizona-Dallas game will be a big one for the Packers this week.

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For another week, the Green Bay Packers sit atop the NFC standings. Their 24-22 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Christmas afternoon ensured that they would hold on to a one-game lead in the NFC for at least another week, and it set them up with a chance to clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a week remaining.

There’s a very clear scenario there for the Packers. If they beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night in week 17 and the Arizona Cardinals defeat the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers lock up the top seed regardless of what happens across the rest of the conference. The Packers would then have a two-game lead on Dallas and at least one-game leads over the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers while clinching tiebreakers in any two- or three-way tie scenario with those teams. Green Bay fans should prepare to cheer heartily for Arizona on Sunday afternoon as a result.

Here’s a look at where things stand with two games remaining.

Current Playoff Field

  1. Green Bay Packers* (12-3, NFC North champs, next vs. Vikings)
  2. Dallas Cowboys* (11-4, NFC East champs, next vs. Cardinals)
  3. Los Angeles Rams* (11-4, NFC West leaders, next @ Ravens)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers* (11-4, NFC South champs, next @ Jets)
  5. Arizona Cardinals* (10-5, Wild Card, next @ Cowboys)
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7, Wild Card, next @ Washington)
  7. San Francisco 49ers (8-7, Wild Card, next vs. Texans)

The only loss among the top five teams in the NFC this week was the Cardinals’ loss against the Colts on Saturday night. With the Rams beating the Vikings, that pushes Los Angeles into the division lead. The Packers’ win maintained their one-game lead on the rest of the conference, however.

Dallas continues to hold on to the tiebreaker among the division leaders by virtue of their conference record. The Rams then get the 3rd seed over Tampa Bay thanks to a win in the two teams’ week 3 game.

The tiebreaker at 6 and 7 is easy, as the 49ers beat the Eagles back in week two.

In the Hunt

8. Minnesota Vikings (7-8, next @ Packers)
9. Atlanta Falcons (7-8, next @ Bills)
10. New Orleans Saints (7-8, next vs. Panthers)
11. Washington Football (6-9, next vs. Eagles)

Four more teams are still clinging to playoff hopes with two weeks to go, with Washington needing a ton of help to get in with a sub-.500 record. Minnesota and Atlanta both could work their way in at 9-8. A Packers win over the Vikings on Sunday night would practically eliminate them from contention, though there is still a minuscule chance that they could get into the field if all other results break right for them over the final two weeks. Atlanta must win out to have a chance, however.

Eliminated

12. Carolina Panthers (5-10, next @ Saints)
13. Chicago Bears (5-10, next vs. Giants)
14. Seattle Seahawks (5-10, next vs. Lions)
15. New York Giants (4-11, next @ Bears)
16. Detroit Lions (2-12-1, next @ Seahawks)

Week 16’s results saw another three teams eliminated, with Carolina, Seattle, and New York being added to the list. Detroit is now fighting with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) for the right to pick first in the 2022 NFL Draft.