As the NFL enters the final week of the regular season, three playoff spots remain unclaimed. Even the teams that are guaranteed to be in the postseason have a chance to change their playoff seeding, since none of the divisions have been clinched.
Seven teams are alive for six spots. Here is a closer look at the different scenarios for the 2013 NFC playoff picture:
It’s been a two-team race in this division for most of the year, and the winner will be decided in the Week 17 matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles (9-6) have a one-game edge on the Cowboys (8-7), but the tiebreaker belongs to Dallas. They won the first meeting between the two teams, and the Cowboys are undefeated in the division.
The Green Bay Packers will visit the Chicago Bears in what has become the NFC North championship game. The Detroit Lions (7-8) were eliminated from contention with a loss to the New York Giants in Week 16. A tie would give the division to the Bears (8-7), since the Packers (7-7-1) are a half-game back due to a tie in Week 12.
The Carolina Panthers (11-4) are in control of their own destiny. If they win, they take the division crown and a first-round bye. If they lose to the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints (10-5) would have a chance to steal first place with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The rivals split their head-to-head meetings, so the tiebreaker would come down to division records. Both are currently at 4-1 in that department, but a win for the Saints and a defeat for the Panthers would give New Orleans the edge.
All the Seattle Seahawks (12-3) need to do is beat the St. Louis Rams at home, and they’ll lock up the division title, as well as home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A loss, though, would complicate things. A Seahawks loss, combined with a San Francisco 49ers (11-4) win, would give the NFC West title to Jim Harbaugh’s club. The two went 1-1 against each other, and the 49ers have the better division record. If the 49ers take the division, they’re guaranteed a first-round bye, but would need the Panthers to lose in order to claim the No.1 seed.
NFC Wild Card
Five different teams have a chance to fill up the two wild card spots. Of the teams trying to win their division, Seattle, San Francisco and Carolina have already clinched playoff berths. The Arizona Cardinals (10-5) can’t win the division, but they still have a chance to make the playoffs. A win for them in San Francisco, combined with a loss for the Saints, gives them the No.6 seed. The Saints haven't clinched a postseason spot, but they have the tiebreaker over Arizona because of a victory in their Week Three matchup.