NFC Playoff Scenarios: Giants-Packers Face Off, Falcons and Bears In, Bucs Need Lots of Help

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Atlanta is one win away from winning the NFC South and getting the #1 seed. If Atlanta loses to both New Orleans and Carolina, and the Saints beat Tampa Bay in week 17, Atlanta would finish as the top wildcard.  If Atlanta loses both games but still wins the division with a NO loss to TB, they could fall below the #1 seed if either Chicago or Philadelphia finish 12-4.  Most likely scenario is that Atlanta wins one, and secures the #1 seed.

Chicago clinched the NFC North by going to 5-0 in the division last night. They will still be playing for a first round bye, and hold the tiebreaker over Philadelphia, also 10-4.  If Chicago wins the last two, or Philadelphia loses a game, Chicago will get a bye.

Philadelphia has a game lead plus the tiebreaker over the Giants after the improbable comeback. Philadelphia wins the NFC East with one win or a Giants loss. Philadelphia has not officially clinched a playoff spot, because if they lost both home games to Minnesota and Dallas to finish 10-6, they could still lose a tiebreaker to Tampa Bay at 10-6 based on conference record. Eagles are in without a win if Tampa Bay loses or the Giants lose next week. The Eagles can get a first round bye with two wins, plus a Bears loss.

New York Giants will clinch a playoff spot with a win over Green Bay by my calculations.  This is because they would eliminate GB, and would own the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay based on Strength of Victory. If my math is right, the Giants have a +10 advantage in Strength of Victory and the Bucs cannot catch them.  The Giants can still win the East, but it would require two wins, and two Eagle losses.  If the Giants lose to the Packers, they can still make the playoffs with a win over Washington, if the Packers lose to the Bears OR the Buccaneers and Saints both finish at 10-6 (but not if just the Saints finish 10-6).

Green Bay must beat the Giants to stay alive.  A win over New York and Chicago puts Green Bay in the playoffs.  A win over New York, a loss by New York to Washington, and one loss by Tampa Bay also puts Green Bay in based on winning a three-way tiebreaker on SOV at 9-7.

Tampa Bay can surpass the New Orleans Saints on tiebreakers if they win the last two, and the Saints lose to Atlanta as well.  That still does not guarantee a spot, though.  Tampa would make the playoffs if they finish tied with the Saints at 10-6 AND the Packers lose a game OR the Giants lose both games to GB and WAS.  If New Orleans beats Atlanta next week, Tampa’s only chance to make it is with two wins, plus Packers beat Giants, and both Packers and Giants lose in week 17.  If New Orleans and New York both win in week 16, Tampa is eliminated.

Oh, and I suppose I have to talk about the NFC West . . .

If San Francisco beats St. Louis next week, and Seattle loses to Tampa Bay, then San Francisco would win the division with a win over Arizona.  If they lost to Arizona, then the St. Louis-Seattle winner would win the division.

If San Francisco beats St. Louis next week, and Seattle beats Tampa Bay, then Seattle would win the division with a win over St. Louis.  If St. Louis won in week 17, San Francisco would win the division with a win over Arizona.  If the 49ers lost to Arizona, then St. Louis is the division winner.

If St. Louis beats San Francisco next week, then San Francisco is eliminated, and the winner of the St. Louis-Seattle game is the division winner, regardless of what Seattle does in week 16 at Tampa Bay.

[photo via Getty]