NFL Playoff Picture: Breaking Down Epic Battle for NFC's Final Wild-Card Spot

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2012

With the 2012 NFL regular season just a week from wrapping up, the talk of the playoff picture and which teams will sneak into the postseason has the football world abuzz.

The AFC may have all of its teams locked in, but the NFC is shaping up for a Week 17 battle that will not only crown a NFC East division winner, but also cement the wild-card race.

The last week of the regular season is always better when there are serious implications, and Week 17 is full of intriguing storylines that will shake up the playoff picture.


The NFC East

While the Washington Redskins (9-6) are leading the NFC East right now, the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) and New York Giants (8-7) are not out of the equation yet.

With the Giants playing the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17—a game New York should win—and the Cowboys facing the Redskins to finish the regular season, there are so many ways the final week of NFC East action could shake out.

Washington is playing well right now, so as long as it performs as strongly as it has been with rookie Robert Griffin III under center against Dallas Sunday, it will win the division outright.

As for the remaining NFC wild-card spot, that depends on what happens in the North.


The NFC North

The Minnesota Vikings (9-6) and Chicago Bears (9-6) are fighting hard for a spot in the postseason, but tough Week 17 matchups for each will make getting to the Promised Land even tougher.

The Bears will take on the Detroit Lions, but the test will be harder for the Vikings, who must take on the red-hot Green Bay Packers.

With so many divisional games—not just in the NFC North, but in the NFC East and across the league—teams will not only be looking to win the game; they’ll also be looking to play spoilers.

Add in the fact that five teams are in contention for two spots, and this is a Week 17 playoff race that will be too great to miss.



 No. 1 Seed Atlanta Falcons (13-2) Clinched NFC South & Home-Field Advantage
 No. 2 Seed Green Bay Packers (11-4) Clinched NFC North
 No. 3 Seed San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1) Lead NFC West; Clinched Playoff Berth 
 No. 4 Seed Washington Redskins (9-6) Lead NFC East


 No. 5 Seed Seattle Seahawks (10-5); Clinched Playoff Berth
 No. 6 Seed Minnesota Vikings (9-6)


 Chicago Bears (9-6)
 Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
 New York Giants (8-7)



 No. 1 Seed Houston Texans (12-3) Clinched AFC South
 No. 2 Seed Denver Broncos (12-3) Clinched AFC West
 No. 3 Seed New England Patriots (11-4) Clinched AFC East
 No. 4 Seed Baltimore Ravens (10-5) Clinched AFC North


 No. 5 Seed Indianapolis Colts (10-5); Clinched Playoff Berth
 No. 6 Seed Cincinnati Bengals (9-6); Clinched Playoff Berth




Atlanta: vs. Chicago

San Francisco: vs. Arizona

Green Bay: at Minnesota

Washington: vs. Dallas

Seattle: vs. St. Louis

Minnesota: vs. Green Bay

Chicago: vs. Detroit

Dallas:at Washington

New York: vs. Philadelphia



Houston: at Indianapolis

Denver: vs. Kansas City

New England: vs. Miami

Baltimore: at Cincinnati

Indianapolis: vs. Houston

Cincinnati: vs. Baltimore


Check back for more on the National Football League as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s NFL page to get your fill of all things football.


    Congressman Blasts Jets Owner's Offer to Pay Anthem Fines

    NFL logo

    Congressman Blasts Jets Owner's Offer to Pay Anthem Fines

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    With New Policy, NFL Still Doesn’t Get It

    NFL logo

    With New Policy, NFL Still Doesn’t Get It

    Master Tesfatsion
    via Bleacher Report

    Players with Most to Lose in Their Contract Year

    NFL logo

    Players with Most to Lose in Their Contract Year

    Gary Davenport
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Broncos Hire Ex-NBA GM Hinkie

    NFL logo

    Report: Broncos Hire Ex-NBA GM Hinkie

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report