The NFC playoff picture has five confirmed teams plus the eventual “winner” of the NFC East, but where most of those teams will be seeded is still very much in question. It leaves plenty of intrigue in the Week 17 schedule, and we'll look at how these regular-season finales will impact the eventual playoff matchups.
If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:
- San Francisco 49ers (12-3)
- Green Bay Packers (12-3)
- New Orleans Saints (12-3)
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
- Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (10-5)
- Dallas Cowboys (7-8)
- The 49ers are ahead of the Packers and Saints thanks to head-to-head victories over both teams.
- The Packers (9-2) are ahead of the Saints (8-3) are seeded above the Packers thanks to a better win percentage in NFC.
Right now only two things are certain; the NFC East winner will be the 4th seed and the Vikings are locked into the 6th spot. Even if Seattle loses and Minnesota win this week, the Seahawks have a head-to-head victory over the Vikings this year.
From there anything is still possible. Multiple teams are still in play for the
Here are this week's games involving the current NFC playoff contenders:
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys could've clinched then NFC East and used this week to rest and prepare for the playoffs. Instead they're now in a must-win scenario and still have to rely on the Giants beating the Eagles take the division.
The Redskins have not been a pushover this year despite their poor record, giving teams like the Patriots and Packers a tough game. They will, however, be without Dwayne Haskins at QB due to injury. The developing rookie will miss the game and veteran Case Keenum will take over to close out the season.
Keenum was the starter when Dallas and Washington last played in Week 2, and the Cowboys handled that one without issue despite being on the road. But even if they repeat their dominance this Sunday, it could all be for naught if the Eagles take care of their own business.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
The two NFC East games will both be late afternoon kickoffs, so neither Dallas or Philadelphia will get to know what the other has done. Both will have to play to win this Sunday, but you can bet the other game will be on a TV somewhere in Jerry's box.
Daniel Jones is back this Sunday and just threw for five touchdowns last week in Washington. Could the Giants, now at home, pull off the upset and give Dallas a chance to still make the playoffs?
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
The eventual winner of the NFC East will get to sit back and watch their first-round opponent be decided on Sunday Night Football. The winner of this game will take the NFC West and the loser will end up heading to either Dallas or Philly as the 5th-seeded wild card.
The 49ers clinch the 1st seed with a victory, already having tiebreakers over Green Bay or New Orleans. Even as division winners, Seattle would likely be the 3rd seed given their current record and tiebreaker issues with the Packers and Saints.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Green Bay has to win if they want the bye week. If they win and the 49ers lose, then the Packers become the number-one seed in the playoffs and enjoy home field advantage throughout.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
The Saints can still climb back into a top-two seed with a win and a loss by either the 49ers or Packers. If all three teams win their games, then New Orleans will miss out on the bye week and host the Vikings in the first round.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings can't change anything about their playoff status now. They are locked into that 6th seed and will travel to face either the Packers, Saints, or whoever wins the NFC West depending on various tiebreakers. The only thing that's for certain is that it won't be Cowboys/Eagles vs Vikings in the first round.