Tom Uddo, Contributor
The NFC is a little easier to understand when it comes to clinching scenarios, but more teams are involved in the process, especially the NFC North where the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears all still have a chance at the title.
Here is the NFC Playoff Picture heading into week 16…
2. New Orleans Saints (10-4): NFC South leader
3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6): NFC East leader
4. Chicago Bears (8-6): NFC North leader
5. Carolina Panthers (10-4): Wild card
6. San Francisco 49ers (10-4): Wild card
In the Hunt: Arizona Cardinals (9-5), Green Bay Packers (7-6-1), Detroit Lions (7-7), Dallas Cowboys (7-7)
* Denotes team has clinched a playoff berth
Seattle has a chance to clinch the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win, or if the San Francisco 49ers lose in their game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Arizona Cardinals still have hope of a crack at the playoffs, but a matchup on the road in Seattle could spell the end of their surprise season.
The NFC South is still up for grabs as the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers will battle this week for a chance to claim the top spot. The Saints can clinch with a win and they will also acquire a first-round bye in the process. Carolina can clinch a spot even with a loss, if both the Cardinals and Niners suffer defeats.
If the Panthers can win this week, the Saints could be at risk of missing the playoffs altogether depending on how other games play out in the final week of the season....wow!
The NFC East comes down to the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles can clinch the division with a win and a Dallas loss, or they clinch with just a Dallas loss. If both teams win out this week, the final week of the season sets up another division title game, where one teams moves onto the playoffs and the other goes home.
The NFC North is where it gets tricky. Currently, the Bears hold the top spot at 8-6, but a matchup against the Eagles will be a tough test, especially with Philly being another team fighting for their playoff lives. With a win and a loss or tie by the Packers and Lions, the Bears will clinch the NFC North crown. If the Packers win this week against the Steelers, they will travel to Chicago next week with the division title and the playoffs on the line. The Lions are trying to keep their heads above water as they host the Giants this week, but are hoping for losses by both the Bears and Packers if they have any shot to make a move in the standings.
So heading into next week, we could see do-or-die matchups in the NFC East and the NFC North coming down to the final games of the season....amazing!
Strap on your seatbelts everybody!