NFL Playoff Picture 2012: Every NFC playoff scenario explained

Patrick McDermott

While the AFC playoff picture is set, there are still plenty of possibilities in the NFC.

Four of the six NFC playoff spots have been clinched, but there is still plenty to be decided in Week 17. Five teams are still in contention for the final two spots, and seeding is still up for grabs.


Updated playoff picture, Week 17: AFC | NFC


The only certainty in the NFC is that the Atlanta Falcons are the No. 1 seed. Beyond that, there are 128 different playoff scenarios. The NFC East and the final wild card slot will be decided on Sunday, while the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye is also up for grabs. For a visual look at the madness, there is this nifty chart via Reddit.

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The No. 2 Seed

As you can see from the chart, three teams are still in the running for the No. 2 seed. Green Bay will clinch it with a win against Minnesota, while San Francisco would be the No. 2 with a Green Bay loss and a 49er win against the Cardinals. If the Seahawks beat the Rams and both Green Bay and San Francisco lose, Seattle would be the No. 2 seed.

The NFC East

The NFC East will be decided by Sunday's game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys. The winner will clinch the division and the No. 4 seed. If Washington loses, they can still make the playoffs as a wild card. If Dallas loses, they are out of the playoffs.

The NFC West

Both Seattle and San Francisco have clinched playoff spots, but the NFC West title is still up for grabs. The 49ers clinch with a win against Arizona, while Seattle takes the division with a win against St. Louis and a 49er loss. The NFC West winner will either be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed.

The No. 6 seed

Minnesota is currently in the driver's seat for the No. 6 seed, but is just one of four teams who could end up there come Monday. Minnesota clinches the spot with a win against Green Bay. They could also get in with a tie plus a Chicago loss or tie. If Minnesota loses and Dallas, the New York Giants and Chicago all lose, the Vikings are headed to the playoffs.

While the Redskins are gunning for division, they can make the playoffs as a wild card if the Bears and Vikings both lose on Sunday.

Chicago's path to the playoffs starts with a win or tie against the Detroit Lions. If the Bears win and Minnesota loses or ties, Chicago is in. The Bears can also get in with a tie if the Vikings lose.

The New York Giants are the longshot of the group. They must win their game against Philadelphia then hope for a lot of help. The Giants will get in if they win and Dallas loses or ties plus the Vikings and Bears both lose.

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