NFC Playoff Scenarios entering Week 17
Only one Sunday of football separates us from the NFL Playoffs. However, much will be determined by the results of Week 17. From the top-seed in the NFC on the line, to the possibility of the Seahawks still getting a first-round bye, here are a few playoff scenarios that could unfold should things fall in place on the final day of the season.
Week 17 games that matter: Saints (12-3) @ Panthers – 10am, Packers (12-3) @ Lions – 10am, Eagles (8-7) @ Giants – 1:25pm, Cowboys (7-8) vs Redskins (1:25pm), 49ers (12-3) @ Seahawks (11-4) — 5:20pm
The 49ers are the odds-on favorite to get the NFC’s #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Niners can clinch the 1-seed if they beat the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday Night Football. Given that game is the final regular season game, the games preceding it will help determine the landscape as well.
The Packers are big favorites over the Lions this weekend in Detroit, and should Green Bay take care of business, they will become big Seahawks fans. A Packers win and a Seahawks win over the 49ers would give Green Bay the NFC’s #1 seed.
Should the Packers be upset by David Blough’s Lions, though, the New Orleans Saints enter the picture for the top-seed. The Saints are big favorites over the struggling Carolina Panthers on Sunday in Charlotte. A Saints win, coupled with a Packers upset loss in Detroit, would make New Orleans fans instant Seahawks fans as well. Should Seattle go on to beat San Francisco, the Saints clinch the #1 seed.
And yet, somehow, there is still a chance (albeit minuscule) that the Seahawks themselves get the #1 seed in the NFC. For that to happen, the Packers (12.5 pt favorites) would have to lose at Detroit, the Saints (13 pt favorites) would have to lose at Carolina, and Seattle (3.5 pt underdogs) would have to win at home vs San Francisco.
Oddly, the Niners cannot get the 2-seed. They will either be the No.1 seed with a win over the Seahawks, or, because a loss would mean they did not win the NFC West division, they would slip all the way to the top Wild Card spot, the 5-seed, and have to play on the road the following weekend in Philadelphia or Dallas.
The Packers are the odds-on favorite to be the 2-seed. Should they take care of business in Detroit, but watch the Niners also beat the Seahawks on Sunday Night, then Green Bay gets the 2-seed while San Francisco gets the top spot.
The Saints could get the 2-seed, but they need to beat Carolina and root somehow for a Packers upset loss in Detroit. Were that to happen, New Orleans would root for Seattle to beat San Francisco, but should the Niners win, the Saints get the number-two spot, still a first round bye and a home game in the Divisional Round.
Finally, the Seahawks also have an outside shot at the 2-seed, which is more probable than the scenario for a 1-seed, but it still requires Green Bay to lose in Detroit, and of course for the Hawks to then beat the Niners on SNF. That, while assuming a Saints win in Carolina, would make Seattle the #2 seed with New Orleans the #1 seed and Green Bay slipping to #3.
The Saints are the odds-on favorite to be the 3-seed, if all the current betting favorites win outright in Week 17. New Orleans gets the 3-seed if they beat Carolina, but also see Green Bay beat Detroit and San Francisco to win in Seattle. If all three favorites win, the Niners get No.1, the Packers No.2, and the Saints No.3, hosting the Vikings in the Wild Card game as Minnesota has already clinched the NFC’s 6-seed. New Orleans can’t do any worse than the 3-seed, meaning even if they lose to Carolina while the Packers and Niners both win, the Saints are still hosting the Vikings the following weekend.
The Seahawks, though, could get the 3-seed, too. This is their most likely seeding *if* they beat the 49ers and win the NFC West Division title. If the Packers and Saints both win earlier in the day, then the Seahawks know that beating the Niners secures the 3-seed and a home game vs Minnesota in the Wild Card round.
And the Packers could also get the 3-seed, though they would have to lose as a massive favorite in Detroit. If Green Bay does lose, while the Saints and Niners both win, then Green Bay hosts Minnesota in an NFC North rivalry on Wild Card weekend.
This one is pretty simple. It will be the NFC East champion, either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys. By beating Dallas last week, the Eagles are the odds-on favorite to claim the 4-seed. They only have to win Sunday against Eli Manning and the New York Giants in order to win the NFC East with a 9-7 record and host a playoff game on Wild Card Weekend against the 5-seed, either Seattle or San Francisco.
But, if the Eagles were to be upset by Eli & Co. (Philly is a 4.5 pt road favorite), that opens the door for the Cowboys, who host the Redskins in Dallas (DAL -11). A Philly loss paired with a Dallas win would tie the Cowboys and Eagles with 8-8 overall records, with Dallas getting the tie break based on record within the division.
Both the Philly-Giants game and Cowboys-Skins game kick off in synchronization at 1:25pm, heightening the drama.
Either the Seahawks or Niners. If the Niners win (SF favored by 3.5), then Seattle gets the 5-seed and a Wild Card game either at Philly or at Dallas. If the Seahawks win, the Niners slip to this position with the same road game options.
Minnesota. Good luck going on the road, Vikes!