Scrum coming for top seed in NFC

With two games remaining, five teams remain in play for the top seed in the NFC.   For some of the five, like the Cowboys, there’s arguably a better chance of missing the playoffs completely than securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Here’s a look at how the various tiebreakers will apply to the teams in contention for the top seed.

First, there’s no way the 9-5 Eagles can get there.  If they win the last two games, they’ll at best be tied with the NFC North champion (since the four-loss Packers and Lions play each other in Week 17) and/or the NFC West champion (since the three-loss Cardinals and the four-loss Seahawks play next week).  Philly lost to the Packers and Cardinals, which would cause them to lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with either team.  And with a best possible conference record of 7-5, the Eagles would lose out to every other NFC contender on that measurable, even if the Eagles win their final two games.

Second, the Cardinals simply need to beat the Seahawks and 49ers.  With a 13-3 record for Arizona, there can be no ties, with anyone else in the conference.

As to Dallas, two wins would result in a 12-4 record, which would give the Cowboys a tie with the Seahawks (if Seattle wins their last two games) and the top seed if the Cowboys and Seahawks finish in a two-way tie.  For that to happen, both Green Bay and Detroit would have to finish 11-5, meaning that the winner of their Week 17 game would have to lose next week (the Lions play the Bears and the Packers face the Buccaneers).

Dallas would lose a two-way 12-4 tie with the NFC North champion, since Dallas can have an 8-4 record at best in the conference.  The Packers would finish 9-3 in the conference, if they end up 12-4.  The Lions would have a 10-2 record in the conference, if they win their last two and finish 12-4.  (The Cowboys also would lose a two-way tie with the Cardinals, if Arizona loses one of their last two but still wins the division; Arizona beat Dallas earlier this year.)

For the Seahawks, beating the Cardinals would give Seattle a head-to-head sweep over Arizona, vaulting the Seahawks into the division lead and leaving them a home win against the Rams away from 12-4.  It also would position Seattle to win a three-way tie with the Cowboys and the Packers, if they each finish 12-4.  The Seahawks would have a 10-2 conference record, the Packers would be 9-3, and the Cowboys would be 8-4.  The Cowboys would drop out first, and the Seahawks would win the remaining head-to-head tiebreaker based on its Week One win over Green Bay.

Ditto for a three-way tie between the Seahawks, Lions, and Cowboys.  But the tiebreaker between the Seahawks and Lions would have to be decided based on common games, since Seattle and Detroit will be 10-2 in the conference, if both win their final two games.  If that happens, Seattle will be 5-0 against the Packers, Panthers, Giants, and Cardinals (twice), and the Lions will be 3-2 against the Packers (twice) Panthers, Giants, and Cardinals.

For the Packers and the Lions, it won’t be easy to get the top seed.  They need to avoid a tie entirely with the NFC West champion, which means the Cardinals must lose to the Seahawks and 49ers, and that the Seahawks must lose to the Rams.  As to Green Bay, it underscores the importance of Sunday’s deflating loss to the Bills.  If the Packers had won and moved to 11-3, they’d be two wins and an Arizona loss to the Seahawks away from nailing down the top seed.

Now, not.

Confused?  You should be. I am.  But it will all become more clear by next Monday, after the Colts play the Cowboys, the Lions play the Bears, the Packers play the Buccaneers, and (most importantly) the Seahawks face the Cardinals.

87 responses to “Scrum coming for top seed in NFC

  1. What a great time to be a fan of teams that are in the playoff/Super Bowl chase!

    And for teams that are not in the chase like Minnesota. Well … you are coming along nicely. Once you find a QB you’ll be right there.

  2. Missing is hat are the chances the Vikings make the playoffs? Their trolls spent the last month predicting a wild card spot and purple confetti to fall in February and I’ve never known them to be wrong. (with the possible exception that Ponder was worth the #12 overall pick)

  3. West champ will be number one seed. Whoever wins north will be 2 seed. East winner 3 seed. Highly unlikely to be any other outcome, because of the tiebreakers that have been decided.

    There; it is simplified considerably.

  4. Basically, the winner of the Seattle at Arizona game will be the number one seed unless Detroit can win at Green Bay.

    The Broncos won’t be winning any games at Foxboro in January.

  5. What would be fun is if the Seahawks get the chance to dismantle the Patriots in the same way they dismantled the Broncos.

  6. Go Lions… find a consistent offense where 3rd and long doesn’t appear to be ‘the plan’.

    With a passer rating of 87.8, Matt is just barely better than Kapernick, Cousins, and Sanchez… and not even as good as RGIII, Cutler, or Colt McCoy.

    At some point, that needs to be a consideration.

  7. sdsmooth says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:36 AM
    What a great time to be a fan of teams that are in the playoff/Super Bowl chase!

    And for teams that are not in the chase like Minnesota. Well … you are coming along nicely. Once you find a QB you’ll be right there.

    —-

    Maybe someone who goes 17 for 42 for 185 yards, 2 picks and the game losing fumble would put them over the top..

  8. Seriously, leave us Vike fans alone. We are in the worst possible situation, we have a rookie QB who flashes just enough to make you think he could be the answer (then throws two horrible picks that put the Lions right back in the game), so (a) you can’t really justify picking Marcus Mariota since you have Teddy, and (b) we’ll be too far down the daft order anyway.

    Sucks. We’re cursed.

  9. The important thing to remember is that the Giants are sitting pretty in 13th ahead of Atlanta because they win the tie break over Atlanta based on head-to-head win percentage. Another feather in Coughlin’s hat.

  10. “Second, the Cardinals simply need to beat the Seahawks and 49ers. With a 13-3 record for Arizona, there can be no ties, with anyone else in the conference.”

    Yep that shouldn’t be a problem, what with a 3rd string QB going against two of the better defenses in the NFL. Easy peezy if you ask me.

  11. I know there is a lot of hate back and forth with the Packers and Vikings fans. It’s fun to watch to be honest.

    However, that team that put up a fight against the Lions yesterday, with a bunch of missing starters, a QB that’s only going to get better, and a returning MVP running back next year is a whole lot scarier to me as a Detroit fan than the Packers. I’m not trying to start a fight, just being honest. That team is simply one year away from being a very rotten team to have to play.

    The road to the playoffs for Green Bay and Detroit should be fun. Hey NFL… why not just save us the wait and simply let us know what we already know….Detroit at Green Bay will be flexed in week 17.

  12. And guess what the NFC South Champion doesn’t have to worry about dealing with any of that mess and they still get a home playoff game. Now we all do remember how everyone felt in 2010 when the NFC West was a pathetic mess and the Seahawks won their division with a 7-9 record? History does have a way of repeating itself doesn’t it?

  13. This is so stupid. In the end none of it will matter. The greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL will continue their stampede by stearolling any team in any location that is dumb enough to lace up and hit the field risking their own physical health.

    This season was over the minute the Hawks decided it was time to hit their next gear–which no one else has. It’s over. Fait accompli. Number 2 of 6 consecutive Lombardi’s is on its way to the 12’s!

    #HawkDynasty #GoHawks

  14. realnflmaster says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:50 AM
    What’s laughable is that a 6 win team will win the the NFC Soft division.
    _____
    Not necessarily. If the Saints win out, they finish 8-8 and win it. If my Panthers win out and Atlanta beats New Orleans again, then the Panthers win it at 7-8-1. If Atlanta wins out, they win it at 7-9 (as they would have beaten New Orleans and Carolina, dropping each of them to 9 losses, Carolina to 6 wins, and Atlanta with the tiebreaker over New Orleans due to a head-to-head sweep). So it’s likely the winner will have 7 wins.

    A bad division? Yes, this year. But that goes in cycles. It was only 4 years ago that the Seahawks won the NFC West at 7-9. I will be quite interested to see how we would do against a #5 seed, now that our o-line has stablized a bit.

  15. As a Vikings fan that was probably the best outcome. We outplayed Detroit in Detroit and we weren’t making the playoffs anyways. Teddy B is looking better every game, he threw two picks, but it happens to rookies. I hope the Lions close out the season for once.

  16. Steelers are Superior says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:43 AM
    The NFC is a finesse conference.

    ——-

    The NFL is a finesse league since Roger eliminated tackling.

  17. realnflmaster says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:50 AM
    What’s laughable is that a 6 win team will win the the NFC Soft division.
    ___________________________________

    Not laughable for us (Saints fans) because the Saints had to go on the road as a wildcard to play a 7-9 division winner four years ago. Consider it now “even” if they win a their division at 8-8 or 7-9 and get to host a playoff game.

  18. Mike,

    Why would Seattle win a three-way tie against the Cowboys and Packers? The Cowboys won at Seattle earlier in the season and the Packers and Cowboys haven’t played each other.

  19. bhinrichs9 says:
    Dec 15, 2014 11:02 AM

    As a Vikings fan that was probably the best outcome. We outplayed Detroit in Detroit and we weren’t making the playoffs anyways. Teddy B is looking better every game, he threw two picks, but it happens to rookies. I hope the Lions close out the season for once.

    ****************************************

    “Stats are for losers”. The three key areas where Detroit outplayed Minnesota were turnovers special teams, and scoreboard. Just win baby!

  20. Packers blew it. Now they have to finish strong. If they have to travel in the postseason, so be it.

  21. packergator says:Dec 15, 2014 11:32 AM

    Mike,

    Why would Seattle win a three-way tie against the Cowboys and Packers? The Cowboys won at Seattle earlier in the season and the Packers and Cowboys haven’t played each other.
    ——————————————————–
    Did you read the article? Division record is first tie breaker, head to head is second. Seattle has the better division record.

  22. Packergator, when there is a 3 way tie your head to head breakers go out the window. At a 3 way tie they look at the conference record and how good they played against all NFC opponents.

  23. I’m a Bears fan and I want Detroit to win out and take the Division (this means they beat my Bears next week). Nothing would make me happier than to see Green Bay a Wild Card, or even miss playoffs altogether!

  24. How can anyone compare Bridgewater to Vince Young?

    I’m a Lions fan and even I’ll admit that Bridgewater is NOT a bust. He’s a rookie, cut him some slack. Take a look at Peyton Manning’s stats from his rookie year.

    Geno Smith on the other hand…well he doesn’t seem to be the answer for the Jets. He and Bradford probably deserve one more year to see if they can avoid bust status.

    RGIII is a bust. Time for him to move on.

  25. @Nickswearsky – Another Bears fan here, and I’m with you 100%. As much as I would hate to see the Bears get swept by Detroit twice in two seasons, if it means the Packers miss the playoffs, I’ll take it. It’s about the only thing we could take away as a positive outcome of this season.

  26. Sorry Vikings fans, the only way purple confetti falls is mixed with black and gold. Ravens? You betcha–yaaaaaah.

  27. goodellisruiningtheleague says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:36 AM
    It’s going to be tough for Dallas to win the NFC East. That loss to the Redskins could come back to haunt them.
    ———–

    Along with the one they’re also going to catch on Week 17.

    But losing to the Colts, which they will, should cancel all this talk. Once again, Dallas will have to win on Week 17 to avoid being eliminated from playoff contention. You couldn’t write this any better if you tried.

  28. It really doesn’t matter what the playoff games look like, you can bank on it that through the refs and the NFL one of their darlings (Brady, Wilson or Peyton) will be there.

  29. Packers d alone should have them miss the playoffs. How terrible are they??

    They lose out and miss the playoffs in my estimation. Can’t fix no talent.

  30. Last place Bears’ fans are reduced to their last breath of hope: Seeing Green Bay lose out for the playoffs…..Remember, the Trestman Era last two years.

  31. Packers Suck….Lions suck……Bears suck…..Vikings suck.

    Vikings probably have the biggest upside looking forward. Packers have no defense and Rogers the superstar lost to Buffalo in a must win game.

    Bears just suck

    Lions are the Lions.

    Vikings land is looking pretty good in the future. Bridgewater will be just fine. Zimmer is getting everything he can out of the D. Just wait until he gets more of his type guys. Need to have a D to make a run. Rogers can’t overcome that piss poor defense every game.

  32. SOMEONE ANSWER PLEASE!?!?!!?

    Can someone answer this point blank? So if the Seahawks win there last 2 games do they lock up the #1 seed in the NFC for sure, because that is what I have heard but I cant figure out how they have the tie breaker with both Detroit and Dallas. I would appreciate if someone can shed some light on this. And yes I did read the article but it kind of was making me dizzy.

  33. Can’t believe the Philadelphia team got smacked around yesterday by the Dallas team. They will have to play much better this week against the Redskins.

  34. Seattle would have the #1 seed due to several of the tiebreaker scenarios favoring them over Detroit and Dallas. The head to head only comes into play when it comes to intra-division and wild cards. Seattle would have the better conference record over Dallas, which is the tiebreaker for division winners and determining homefield advantage, and would have a better record against common opponents than Detroit. That’s actually the simplest of the tiebreaker scenarios to determine. All Seattle has to do is beat Arizona and St. Louis and the NFC playoffs WILL go through Seattle. Bad news for the rest of the NFC ha.

  35. The best ‘D’ resides in the desert…..doesn’t matter who QB’s for the Cards. We’ll be n good field position for most of the game giving our kicker plenty of opportunities to put up some points. Lynch will be a non factor like always against the Cards. 17- 13 AZ victory!

  36. tjacks7 says: Dec 15, 2014 11:10 AM

    Steelers are Superior says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:43 AM
    The NFC is a finesse conference.

    ——-

    The NFL is a finesse league since Roger eliminated tackling

    This is just wrong. Everyone knows Roger eliminated tackling and hitting.

  37. I just don’t see Arizona being relevant in the playoffs with their issues at QB even if with the great defense. I see them being one and done in the playoffs.

  38. Seahawks the greatest dynasty in the “history” of the NFL. Really????? What history book have you been reading. 1 SB win does not make them a dynasty unless you just started following the NFL last year. Wake up. Packers, 49ers, Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers just to name a few multiple SB winners. Seahawks can’t even be mentioned in the same breath. Bone up on your “history”

  39. There’s always one upset in the playoffs. This year it comes out of the NFC. Seahawks will get bounced. Very hard to make it back to the Superbowl in back to back years.

  40. Carl Gerbschmidt says:
    Dec 15, 2014 10:51 AM
    Go ahead, put a chip on Aaron’s shoulder. Good idea…

    HE HAD A CHIP WHEN HE SAID THEY COULD SCORE 38 A GAME. MAYBE HE NEEDS MATH CLASSES. 13 DOESNT EQUAL 38. ALSO, WOULD LOVE TO SEE DETROIT BEAT THEM, AND THEN GB MISES THE WHOLE PLAYOFFS BECAUSE A SOUTH TEAM WON IT AT 6-9-1. THEN A REPORTER SAYS TO FRAUDGERS “SO ARE YOU STILL R-E-L-A-X-E-D?????

  41. dfwhawkguy says:
    Dec 15, 2014 10:43 AM
    This is so stupid. In the end none of it will matter. The greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL will continue their stampede by stearolling any team in any location that is dumb enough to lace up and hit the field risking their own physical health.

    This season was over the minute the Hawks decided it was time to hit their next gear–which no one else has. It’s over. Fait accompli. Number 2 of 6 consecutive Lombardi’s is on its way to the 12’s!

    #HawkDynasty #GoHawks

    Huge Seahawks fan here, but come on man why would we want to say stuff that makes are fanbase look like such idiots, leave that junk for logicalvoices and the crazy Viking supporters that got no grip on reality. This is the greatest run true Seahawk fans have ever got to be a part of and the way the NFL works we could go back the other way at anytime, why not just enjoy it while we can and not make such asinine delusional statements and enjoy our team with pride and a little humbleness.

  42. A lot of needless chirping here especially from NFC purple who are entirely out of it.

    To be the best you have to beat the best. The upper echelon teams making the playoffs are to be congratulated for having good teams but there can be only one champion.

    There was a reason the NFL scheduled the Thursday Night kickoff game with the Packers in Seattle.

    It was only a question of where the rematch will be played. The Cardinals QB injuries and the Packers loss Sunday, mean that the location of that game is now a probability.

    Either one can beat the AFC representative in the Super Bowl.

  43. Cardinals defence can win this weekend if the Seahawks offensive line doesn’t tighten up. 18 sacks over the last four games has me worried.
    If Seattle can pull off the win then the road to the Super Bowl is going to come down to a Rams @ Seahawks game two years in a row.
    Go Seahawks!

  44. I believe there are scenarios where the Green Bay/Detroit game could be a massive swing for the Packers.

    If Dallas were to finish 11-5 in the Wild Card slot (GB loses tiebreakers with them), the final Packer game could be:

    Win=#2 seed with a bye, 12-4
    Lose=Miss the playoffs, 11-5

  45. As a Lion fan…

    Bridgewater is a decent QB… however, he might have the longest most deliberate release I’ve ever seen. That will make him prone to picks as DBs have time to jump routes. If he had a consistent running game, he would be fine, they can work the play action effectively getting defenders to have to turn their backs to him allowing him to complete throws. He doesn’t have the arm strength to be a gun slinger, which is what he turned into at the end of that game yesterday.

    The Lions vs the Bears at Soldier field is scary to me. They have to win that game to make the playoffs, then the GB game is for the bye. If they lose to Chicago, that game becomes a must win to get into the playoffs. It should be an all out blood bath of a game no matter what’s up for grabs making it a must watch for any fan.

  46. SEAHAWK FANS!!!! If the Hawks win the last 2 and GB and Detroit both win on sunday the Hawks get the 1 seed no matter what Dallas does!! Because that would guarantee 12 wins for north champ cuz they play week 17…GB and Detroit play Tampa and Chicago sun by the way.

  47. The Seahawks are in the best position to win out and own home field throughout. They have the Lindley led Cards, then the Rams in Seattle. Both very winnable games considering how dominant their defense has been these past 4 weeks.

  48. It will be interesting to see if the officiating points of emphasis (namely defensive holding and illegal contact) are enforced in the playoffs this year.

    If not, then you’re probably looking at another Seahawks Super Bowl win.

  49. simplesimon1 says:
    Dec 15, 2014 10:29 AM

    I know there is a lot of hate back and forth with the Packers and Vikings fans. It’s fun to watch to be honest.

    However, that team that put up a fight against the Lions yesterday, with a bunch of missing starters, a QB that’s only going to get better, and a returning MVP running back next year is a whole lot scarier to me as a Detroit fan than the Packers. I’m not trying to start a fight, just being honest. That team is simply one year away from being a very rotten team to have to play.

    The road to the playoffs for Green Bay and Detroit should be fun. Hey NFL… why not just save us the wait and simply let us know what we already know….Detroit at Green Bay will be flexed in week 17.
    _________________
    Simple seems right for you. You night be the only one scared of the Vikings. Their QB cannot throw the ball 50 yards….that doesn’t get it done in the NFL. Peterson won’t be back with the Vikings at his current salary, and I don’t see him choosing to go back to Minnesota (because of the situation) when everyone has a chance to bid for his services.

  50. The Cardinal/Seahawks game will be decided by defensive, special teams points and field goals. There will be NO offensive touchdowns. The Cardinals are 7/0 at home this year.

    Get used to seeing Russell Wilson on his back. The Cardinals sacked him 7 times in their last game. There will be NO Beast Mode! ML will gain under 65 yards total.

    Take the Cardinals, the points and the under…

    There will fewer than 25 points scored.

  51. justintuckrule says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:53 AM
    If seattle gets top seed, I’m not watching the playoffs.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Seahawks and their fans are absolutely crushed to hear that.

  52. sdsmooth says:
    Dec 15, 2014 9:36 AM
    What a great time to be a fan of teams that are in the playoff/Super Bowl chase!

    And for teams that are not in the chase like Minnesota. Well … you are coming along nicely. Once you find a QB you’ll be right there.

    —-

    Maybe someone who goes 17 for 42 for 185 yards, 2 picks and the game losing fumble would put them over the top..

    Maybe if they had a quarterback that had those numbers once in 5 years and not every week they would not be the joke of these posts week in and week out.

  53. hawkitrond hit the nail on the head. I am a die hard Seahawks fan and have been since their inception. I am enjoying the good times now, having suffered thru all the bad times past. I don’t know where these dunderheads raving about 6 rings come from as the Hawk fans I know are much more level-headed. Those type of comments reflect badly on the rest of us. So kudos to you hawkitrond, and to the rest of the level headed fans. GO HAWKS!!!!!!!

  54. SEA/DAL TIEBREAKER EXPLAINED:

    If SEA and DAL were the only NFC division winners with a 12-4 record, DAL WOULD get the #1 seed over the Seahawks based on their head-to-head victory.

    As for the three-way tie, nobody has gotten it right yet in the comments. Head-to-head is ALWAYS the first tiebreaker you try. ALWAYS.

    In the case of a three-way tie, however, you can’t apply head-to-head UNLESS each team has played each of the other two the same number of times – that’s why head-to-head is always applicable for three-way divisional ties, but rarely for three-way seeding ties, leading to the misconception that it’s only applied inside divisions.

    The Seahawks have played GB and DAL once each, but GB and DAL haven’t played each other. You can’t say DAL gets in over SEA on HTH because then you’d have to say SEA gets in over GB… but how did DAL get in over GB in the first place?

    Thus, you can’t apply head-to-head in this case, so you move to the second tiebreaker for conference seeding: conference record.

    Dalls gets eliminated first because they have the worst conference record. Then you do a straightforward tiebreak between SEA and GB. As always, head-to-head is always the first tiebreaker, and in this case it’s applicable, so the Seahawks win it.

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