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NFL Playoff Picture: Sizing Up The NFC Wildcard

All three NFC West teams still in playoff contention — Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco — can only get in by winning the division. However, the NFC wildcard scenarios will have an impact on the NFC West as whoever makes the playoffs out of the division is assured the No. 4 seed and a date with the highest-seeded wildcard team.

As it stands right now, the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants hold the NFC wildcard berths. The Saints currently home a one-game lead for the No. 1 wildcard spot over the Giants. The Saints and Giants both demolished the Seattle Seahawks this year, with New Orleans beating Seattle at home and the Giants dropping the Hawks at Qwest Field.

Here’s how it could shake out.

New Orleans gets the No. 5 seed as the top wildcard:
Saints win one of their last two games OR Saints win remaining two games.

New Orleans gets the No. 6 seed as the second wildcard:
Giants win final two games AND Saints drop last two games.

New York gets the No. 5 seed as the top wildcard:
Giants win out and Saints drop both remaining games.

New York gets the No. 6 seed as second wildcard:
Giants beat Packers and lose to Washington in week 17.
Green Bay loses to NE, Giants lose to Green Bay in week 16 and beat Washington in week 17.

Green Bay gets into the wildcard:
Win over New England tonight, win over the Giants in week 16, loss to Chicago in week 17.
Lose to NE tonight, win final two games, including a week 16 game over the Giants.

Long story short, it’s looking highly likely the winner of the NFC West will face New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs. The good news? Whichever team walks away with the NFC West crown will host a playoff game in the first round, despite having a worse record, maybe as bad as four games worse, than the wildcard team. Expect to hear plenty of complaints and call for rule changes as a result.

Four teams are fighting for the NFC wildcard, though either Chicago or Green Bay will take the NFC North crown and playoff berth that goes along with it. That leaves either New Orleans, New York or Chicago/Green Bay for the wildcard, with the Saints and Giants in control as it stands now.

Good luck, NFC West.