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NFC Playoff Picture, Week 18: NFC West remains only division still up for grabs

Though the Packers clinched the top spot, the rest of the NFC’s postseason seeding is still undecided.

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Well, this is it for the NFC playoff hunt. Six teams have locked up berths in the postseason with one week to play, leaving just two teams fighting for the final Wild Card spot in the conference. However, the seeding for the Wild Card round is anything but decided, with the only guaranteed seed belonging to the first-place Green Bay Packers, who will get a bye to the Divisional Round.

Instead, one division is still undecided, and the winner of the NFC West will help determine where the rest of the field ends up — and who will be playing where on the opening weekend of the postseason. Here’s where the field stands heading into the final weekend of the NFL season along with the major scenarios for how each team can clinch certain spots.

Current Playoff Field

  1. Green Bay Packers (13-3, clinched NFC North & 1-seed, next @ Lions)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4, NFC West leaders, clinched playoff spot, next vs. 49ers)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4, clinched NFC South, next vs. Panthers)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (11-5, clinched NFC East, next @ Eagles)
  5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5, clinched playoff spot, next vs. Seahawks)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (9-7, next @ Rams)
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7, clinched Wild Card spot, next vs. Cowboys)

In the Hunt

8. New Orleans Saints (8-8, next @ Falcons)

Six of the NFC playoff spots are decided, but the final order from seeds 2 through 7 is very much up in the air. Part of this is due to the Rams and Cardinals still fighting for the NFC West title. The Rams clinch with a win or a Cardinals loss, while the Cardinals would take the West by beating the Seahawks and seeing the 49ers beat LA. If Arizona does win the West, they would be no worse than the second seed, thanks to yesterday’s win over Dallas. A Rams win keeps them in the 2 spot and ahead of Tampa Bay.

Still, all of the other division leaders, even the Cowboys, have a chance of getting the 2 seed. The Rams lock that up with a win, while Tampa Bay would get that slot with a win and a Rams loss. Arizona can make it to the 2 seed by winning the division and seeing Tampa lose, while the Cowboys need the most help, in the form of losses by all of LA, Arizona, and Tampa Bay in addition to Dallas taking care of Philadelphia on Saturday night.

The last intriguing situation is for the final Wild Card spot, which will make that San Francisco-Los Angeles game a fascinating one to watch. The 49ers are in with a victory or a loss by the Saints. However, if San Francisco loses and the Saints beat the Falcons on the road, New Orleans will sneak in as the 7th seed. Both of those games will take place at the same time, ensuring that all teams involved are giving it their all in week 18.

Eliminated

9. Minnesota Vikings (7-9, next vs. Bears)
10. Atlanta Falcons (7-9, next vs. Saints)
11. Washington Football Team (6-10, next @ Giants)
12. Chicago Bears (6-10, next @ Vikings)
13. Seattle Seahawks (6-10, next @ Cardinals)
14. Carolina Panthers (5-11, next @ Buccaneers)
15. New York Giants (4-12, next vs. Washington)
16. Detroit Lions, (2-13-1, next vs. Packers)

Finally, here’s the rest of the conference in its current order. Minnesota, Atlanta, and Washington were officially eliminated with their losses in week 17.