NFC Playoff Scenarios: An Easy Visual Cheat Sheet

The NFC Playoff picture remains a mess despite just one week remaining in the regular season. The winner of Sunday’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons will win the NFC South to become the NFC’s fourth seed while the loser is eliminated.

The other five playoff berths have already been claimed but the seeding is anything but sorted.

You’ve probably read some of the complicated NFC playoff scenarios like what happens if so and so wins and teams x and y lose. Blah, blah, blah.

There are five NFC games that matter in week 17:

Early afternoon time slot
Cowboys at Redskins

Late afternoon time slot
Lions at Packers
Cardinals at 49ers
Rams at Seahawks
Panthers at Falcons

Ignoring the possibility of ties, there are 32 possible combinations of outcomes for a set of five games. The following graphic shows the resulting seeding based on each of the 32 combinations (click to enlarge):

In the case of ties, print this out and use for toilet paper. Otherwise, this makes for handy reference before the games and as they play out, especially with four the five games scheduled to be played simultaneously. As it turns out, the Cowboys-Redskins game isn’t as important as it might seem on the surface as the top (Cowboys win) and bottom (Cowboys loss) turn out the same.

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