The NFC South is a hilarious mess. There are only two weeks left in the season, everyone is playing each other, three different teams could win the division, and there’s even an outside chance two teams could get in — all while the winner finishes with a losing record.
A bizarre combination of tie breakers and dumb luck has led us to this moment, with the Atlanta Falcons being the only team eliminated from the postseason. Whatever happens in the NFC South is sure to stir up debate with NFL playoff seeding, home field advantage and tiebreaker scenarios, because whatever happens will feel wrong, even if it’s technically right.
The NFC South... as it stands
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|New Orleans Saints
Current tiebreaker scenarios
- The Buccaneers lead on conference record (1st tiebreaker)
- The Panthers lead on strength of victory (3rd tiebreaker)
- The Saints lead on strength of schedule (4th tiebreaker)
The Buccaneers win the NFC South if...
They beat the Carolina Panthers in Week 17.
The Panthers win the NFC South if ...
They beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17 and the Saints in Week 18, OR if they beat the Buccaneers in Week 17, New Orleans loses to Philadelphia, Tampa Bay loses to Atlanta in Week 18.
The Saints win the NFC South if ...
Tampa Bay loses to Carolina in Week 17, they beat Carolina in Week 18 and the Buccaneers lose to Atlanta OR if Tampa Bay and Carolina tie, with the Saints beating the Panthers in Week 18 and the Buccaneers lose to Atlanta.
How does this garbage conference get two teams in?
We’re talking about a minuscule chance, but it exists. The weirdest part about the NFC South is that despite having worse records than other teams in the hunt, both the Buccaneers and Panthers control their own destinies when it comes to the wild card.
There is less than a 1 percent chance that any of the three remaining NFC South teams manage to get a wild card spot, but here’s how it happens.
- Buccaneers get wild card if they: Tie with Panthers, beat the Falcons. Commanders lose to Browns and Cowboys. Seahawks lose to Jets and Rams. Lions lose to Bears, tie with Packers. Packers lose to Vikings, tie with Lions.
- Panthers get wild card if: Tie with Buccaneers, beat the Saints. Commanders lose to Browns and Cowboys. Seahawks lose to Jets and Rams. Lions lose to Bears, tie with Packers. Packers lose to Vikings, tie with Lions.
- Saints get the wild card if: Beat the Eagles, beat the Panthers. Commanders lose to Browns and Cowboys. Seahawks lose to Jets and Rams. Lions lose to Bears, tie with Packers. Packers lose to Vikings, tie with Lions.
Is there any way all three teams get in?
No, don’t be greedy. These teams are bad.