NFL Playoff Picture: NFC Wildcard Under The Control Of Falcons And Lions

After Week 15, the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions control their own destiny when it comes to earning a spot in the NFC playoffs. With both teams sitting at 9-5, all they have to do is win one game each and they are in. The Falcons own a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, so if they have the same record the Falcons will be the higher seed.

Teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and New York Giants need quite a bit of help to make the dance, but are still mathematically alive. In essence they would need either the Lions or Falcons to lose out, combined with their own 2-0 run to round out the season to even have a chance. All any of those teams could do is put tie-breaker scenarios into play, so hopefully that gives you an idea of just how well things would have to break. Seattle owns head-to-head tie-breakers over the Bears and Giants.

If there is a tie between two teams for a Wildcard berth, here is the tie-breaker procedure (via

  1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  4. Strength of victory.
  5. Strength of schedule.

If there is a tie between three or more teams for a Wildcard spot, it is the same process as above except head-to-head and division record are used to eliminate teams within the same division before moving on to the listed tie-breakers. 

1 *Green Bay 13 1 4-0 10-0
2 *New Orleans 11 3 3-1 7-3
3 *San Francisco 10 3 3-1 8-2
4 Dallas 8 6 2-2 6-4
5 Atlanta 9 5 2-2 6-4
6 Detroit 9 5 3-2 6-5
Outside Looking In          
7 Seattle 7 7 3-1 6-4
8 Chicago 7 7 2-2 6-4
9 NY Giants 7 7 2-3 4-7

For more on the 2011 NFL playoffs, visit the SB Nation NFL Playoff Race Stream.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.