In the NFC, the playoff field is set. The seeding of the six teams is anything but.
So while we know that the Saints, Vikings, Eagles, Cardinals, Packers, and Cowboys will be competing for a berth in Super Bowl XLIV, two of those teams could be the top seed — and a whopping five of them could be the No. 2 team.
If the Saints lose to the Panthers and the Vikings win their final two games (at Bears, Giants), Minnesota will bump New Orleans out of the top spot. But the Vikings could also find themselves playing during wild-card weekend; if they lose only one of their last two and the Eagles beat the Cowboys, Philly will be the second seed.
If the Vikings lose twice, it gets even more interesting. In that case, a win by the Eagles over Dallas puts Philly in the second seed. If the Cowboys win, a victory by Arizona over Green Bay vaults the Cardinals into No. 2. And if the Packers beat the Cardinals and the Cowboys beat the Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys will earn a bye.
Of course, if Minnesota beats the Bears on Monday night (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET), the Cardinals and Cowboys can forget about a bye. But if the Vikings stumble at Soldier Field, jockeying for the NFC second seed will get very interesting.
Then again, maybe securing a bye isn’t a good thing. Last year, the two teams that got a week off in the playoffs lost in the divisional round.