NFC Playoff Picture: Who's In, Who's Out and Tiebreak Scenarios

Michael Mill@@MikeMill23Senior Analyst IIIDecember 25, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers in action during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 18, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With today's games finished, we now have a clear view of how the NFC playoff picture is looking heading into the final week of play in the 2011 regular season.

The Sunday night game and Monday night game both have a pretty big impact on the race in the NFC, but some conclusions can be drawn.

Here is a breakdown of the race in the NFC after Saturday's games.

Who's In

Green Bay Packers

The Packers don't play until tomorrow night, but they have already clinched the NFC North.

With a win tomorrow night they can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they win, it will be interesting to see if starters rest in Week 17.

San Francisco 49ers

Like Green Bay, the 49ers have already clinched their division.

However, they are still battling with the New Orleans Saints for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

New Orleans Saints

Although they have an impressive 11-3 record, the Saints still haven't clinched the NFC South.

They have, however, clinched at the bare minimum a wild-card berth. If the Saints can beat the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football this week, they will secure the NFC South.

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 24:  Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions drops back for a pass during a NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Ford Field on December 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Detroit Lions

The Packers have already locked up the NFC North, but the Lions were still playing hard today with their playoff hopes on the line.

With a crushing performance over the San Diego Chargers, the Lions secure one of the two wild-card spots in the NFC.

Who's Out

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles needed some miracles to happen in order to stay alive in the race in the NFC East.

Those hopes were shattered before their game really got started. Just minutes into the Eagles game against the Cowboys, the news came through that the Giants had beaten the Jets.

The Giants' win eliminates the Eagles from the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks

Mathematically, the Seahawks were still alive this week in the race for a wild-card berth.

They needed to win both remaining games on their schedule and needed Atlanta to lose both of their remaining games.

They couldn't get past step one. The 49ers eliminated them from contention today.

Who's Alive/Tiebreakers

New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys

The Giants and the Cowboys will face off on New Year's Day with the NFC East title on the line.

The winner will take the title and receive a berth in the playoffs. The loser goes home empty-handed.

Atlanta Falcons

Right now, the Atlanta Falcons control their own destiny.

They play the Saints on Monday night and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week. If they can win just one of the games, they will secure the final wild-card spot.

If they win out and the Saints lose out, the Falcons can still win the NFC South and force the Saints to take the final wild-card slot.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears need a lot of luck, but they still are alive in the race for the final wild-card spot in the NFC.

First, they needed Seattle to lose at least one of their two remaining games. That happened today against the 49ers.

The Bears will need to win their remaining two games against the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

That alone may seem unlikely considering the way the team has been playing recently.

They also need the Falcons to lose against both the Saints and Tampa Bay.

The odds are very slim, but the Bears are still alive.


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