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 NFL.com):

  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. 

CONF RK NFC W L DIV CONF
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.

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