LOS ANGELES, December 26, 2012 — The NFC Playoffs are dedicated to Dennis Green and his legendary tirade “They are who we thought they were!”
With less than a week left in the NFL 2012 regular season, it is time to look at the various playoff scenarios. The top four division winners in each conference advance along with the top two non-division winners in each conference, the wild cards. The top two teams in each conference get a bye week to rest their players and get healthy while the lower seeds beat each other up in the opening round. The three and four seeds do not get the week off, but their opening round games are at home. The wild cards are the five and six seeds, and they would have to win three road games to get to the Super Bowl, which has been done in the past.
Here is the AFC picture. Now for the NFC.
The NFC top seed is already known, but five teams are still fighting for two playoff spots. Below is how things stand, and how they can shake out. In parentheses is whom the teams play in the final week, whether at home or on the road.
The NFC is basically a mess. Here is a list of the top teams as it stands now plus the others on the outside looking in, which still have a chance to make the playoffs. The top seed is the only thing that is definite. Only two divisions have been clinched. Four teams have clinched playoff spots, but where they land is up in the air.
1) 13-2 NFC South Champion Atlanta Falcons (Hosting 6-9 Buccaneers)
2) 11-4 NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers (at 9-6 Vikings)
3) 10-4-1 NFC West Leading San Francisco 49ers (Hosting 5-10 Cardinals)
4) 9-6 NFC East Leading Washington Redskins (Hosting 8-7 Cowboys)
5) 10-5 NFC Wildcard Seattle Seahawks (Hosting 7-7-1 Rams)
6) 9-6 NFC Wildcard Minnesota Vikings (Hosting 11-4 Packers)
7) 9-6 NFC playoff hopeful Chicago Bears (at 4-11 Lions)
8) 8-7 NFC playoff hopeful Dallas Cowboys (at 9-6 Redskins)
9) 8-7 NFC playoff hopeful New York Giants (Hosting 4-11 Eagles)
The Atlanta Falcons are the top seed no matter what. They have clinched home field advantage through the entire playoffs. They may play backups next week, leading to the rest vs rust argument.
But below the top seed, all heck breaks loose.
As of now the Packers are the two seed. They have clinched their division. If they win a tough road game next week against a hated division rival, fighting for its playoff life, they get the other first round bye and the week off. If they lose and either the 49ers or Seahawks win, the Packers would drop to the three seed, the lowest they can fall.
Right now the 49ers are the three seed. They have clinched a playoff spot but only lead their division by half a game. They have an easy game at home against a team that lost 9 of their last 10. If they win, they at worst division champions and the three seed. If they win and the Packers lose, the 49ers would be the two seed and get the first round bye. The Packers would drop to the three seed. However, if the 49ers lose and the Seahawks win, the 49ers drop to the five seed as a wild card and would have to go on the road.
At this minute the Washington Redskins are the four seed, but they have clinched nothing. They host archrival Dallas next week. The winner wins the division and is the four seed. Washington can lose and still make the playoffs as the six seed wildcard if the Vikings and Bears both lose.
The Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot and are right now the wild card five seed, meaning road travel. Yet if they win their home game against a team eliminated from contention and the 49ers also do the same, the Seahawks would win the division and be the three seed with a home game. If the Seahawks win and the 49ers and Packers both lose, the Seahawks would vault all the way to the two seed and get the first round bye.
The Vikings are the number six seed but have clinched nothing. They cannot win their division, but winning a tough game at home against a Green Bay team with everything to play for means the Vikings are automatically in the playoffs as that six seed. If the Vikings lose, they can still make the playoffs if the Bears, Cowboys, and Giants all lose.
The Bears are on the outside looking in. They are on the road against a weak but dangerous team playing for pride. If the Bears lose, they are done. If they win and the Vikings lose, the Bears are in the playoffs as the six seed and the Vikings are out.
The Cowboys have one very simple option. They are on the road next week at division rival Washington in the final game of the season Sunday night. If Dallas wins, they win their division and are the number four seed. If they lose they are finished. Dallas cannot be a wild card.
The New York Giants are hanging by a thread. They cannot win their division. They host a team that has given up on the season. If they lose, they are out. If they win, they need the Bears, Cowboys, and Vikings to lose. That would allow them to sneak in as the six seed wild card. While the Cowboys and Giants both winning would have them and the Redskins in a three-way tie atop the division at 9-7, the Giants lose the tie-breaker and would be finished.
All heck does break loose. The Vikings at home make the playoffs and knock the Packers out of the two seed and the Bears out of the playoffs. The 49ers win at home to get the two seed and barely hold off the Seahawks. The Cowboys go on the road and win the division, knocking the Redskins and Giants out of the playoffs.
1) 14-2 Falcons
2) 11-4-1 49ers
3) 11-5 Packers
4) 9-7 Cowboys
5) 11-5 Seahawks
6) 10-6 Vikings
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian who is obsessed with the National Football League. There is no offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” When not watching football, his only other hobby is Republican, Jewish women. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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