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NFL Playoff Scenarios: NFC West Playoff Picture Remains Unclear

It all comes down to a two-week race for the playoffs in the NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams both had a chance to take control of the division on Sunday, but each failed to capitalize. On a whole, it was a dismal week 15 for the division, with all four teams losing by a combined score of 114-50.

With the three playoff contenders -- Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco -- all picking up losses, nobody separated themselves from the pack. St. Louis and San Francisco play each other in week 16, setting up an elimination game for both teams.

Here's the scenarios

Seattle Seahawks are in:
Seattle wins out.
St. Louis beats San Francisco in week 16, Seattle loses to Tampa Bay in week 16 AND Seattle beats St. Louis in week 17.
San Francisco wins in week 16, loses in week 17; Seattle loses in week 16 and wins in week 17.

St. Louis Rams are in:
St. Louis wins out
St. Louis loses in week 16, wins in week 17 and San Francisco loses to Arizona in week 17

San Francisco 49ers are in:
San Francisco wins out and the Seahawks drop one of the next two games.

In short, root for the Rams to beat the 49ers next week, then for the Seahawks to beat the Rams in a one-game playoff in week 17 when St. Louis travels to Seattle. Since a Seahawks win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is unlikely, it all could come down to that week 17 game. The Rams must win next week for that to happen.

If the 49ers win in week 16 and the Seahawks lose, Seattle must hope for a 49ers loss to the Cardinals in week 17 while also taking care of business and beating the Rams at home to cap the season.

Complicated? Yes. A win next week against the Bucs, no matter how unlikely, would allow the Seahawks to control their own destiny, however.