UPDATE: Warren and I put our articles out one after the other. He did his first, so I’m going to Voltron the two of them together so we can get the explanation on there as well. -Chris
The Vikings, after their win at Atlanta, combined with the Eagles loss to Seattle, are officially the number one seed in the NFC playoff picture.
It went down to the 3rd or 4th tie-breaker, but the Vikings take over the number one seed, hold the home field advantage through the Super Bowl, and control their destiny.
That is all.
With the lone game remaining in Week 13 being an all-AFC contest on Monday Night Football, it’s time to take a look at the playoff picture in the NFC. There are just four games remaining in the regular season, and things are starting to take shape. After today’s action, however, there’s a new team in the #1 spot. Let’s break down how everything now looks.
#1 seed - Minnesota Vikings (10-2, NFC North leader, at #1 due to strength of victory over Philadelphia)
Yes, if the season were to end today, the road to Super Bowl 52 would run entirely through U.S. Bank Stadium. Though the Vikings have the same record as Philadelphia, we have to get down to the fourth tiebreaker to make this distinction. Let’s break things down here.
- Tiebreaker 1 is head-to-head. Obviously, Minnesota and Philadelphia don’t meet in the regular season.
- Tiebreaker 2 is conference record. Both Minnesota and Philadelphia are 8-1 against the NFC.
- Tiebreaker 3 is “common opponents” with a minimum of four common opponents required. The only teams that both Minnesota and Philadelphia have played are Washington and Chicago. So, we can’t use this one.
- Tiebreaker 4 is “strength of victory.” As things stand now, the winning percentage of the teams that Minnesota has beaten (.464) is higher than that of the teams that Philadelphia has beaten (.375). So, that’s where your tie is broken.
Things aren’t going to get any easier for the Vikings next week, as they travel to take on a Carolina team that is 8-4 and still in the thick of both the NFC South division race and the wild card race. The Vikings will then have two of their last three games at home.
Remaining schedule: at Carolina, vs Cincinnati, at Green Bay, vs Chicago
#2 seed - Philadelphia Eagles (10-2, NFC East leader)
We just broke down why the Vikings are at #1 and the Eagles are at #2, so we don’t need to go further. The Eagles have another tough test on Sunday, as they have to travel to Los Angeles to take on a Rams team that’s in the hunt for a first-round bye now as well.
Remaining schedule: at Los Angeles Rams, at New York Giants, vs Oakland, vs Dallas
#3 seed - Los Angeles Rams (9-3, NFC West leader, at #3 due to head-to-head victory over New Orleans)
The Rams are now back on the winning track, having picked up their second straight win after getting thumped by the Vikings. Again, they host the Eagles next week in a game that could have some pretty serious implications on seeding given the events of Sunday night.
Remaining schedule: vs Philadelphia, at Seattle, at Tennessee, vs San Francisco
#4 seed - New Orleans Saints (9-3, NFC South leader)
The Saints bounced back from their loss to the Rams last week and took control of the NFC South with a victory over Carolina on Sunday. They’ve now swept Carolina, and now have to play their division rivals from Atlanta twice in the next three weeks, including a short turnaround to go to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Thursday Night Football.
Remaining schedule: at Atlanta, vs New York Jets, vs Atlanta, at Tampa Bay
#5 seed - Seattle Seahawks (8-4, wild card #1, at #5 based on better conference record than Carolina)
The Seahawks kept their NFC West hopes alive with a big win over the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, and remain only a game behind the Rams. They’ve beaten the Rams head-to-head once already this season, and will host the Rams in Week 15. I don’t know how Russell Wilson is doing it, but this team could make a significant jump over the next couple of weeks.
Remaining schedule: at Jacksonville, vs Los Angeles Rams, at Dallas, vs Arizona
#6 seed - Carolina Panthers (8-4, wild card #2)
The Panthers would still be in the postseason if the season ended today, despite their loss to New Orleans. However, having been swept by the Saints, their task becomes that much more difficult. They get to play three of their final four games at home, which is helpful for them, but they might be looking at a wild card at the most barring some strange developments.
Remaining schedule: vs Minnesota, vs Green Bay, vs Tampa Bay, at Atlanta
Outside Looking In
#7 seed - Atlanta Falcons (7-5)
#8 seed - Detroit Lions (6-6, at #8 because of head-to-head win over Green Bay and superior common game record to Dallas)
#9 seed - Green Bay Packers (6-6, at #9 because of head-to-head win over Dallas)
#10 seed - Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
#11 seed - Washington Redskins (5-7, at #11 due to better conference record than Arizona)
#12 seed - Arizona Cardinals (5-7)
#13 seed - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)
Officially Mathematically Eliminated
#14 seed - Chicago Bears (3-9)
#15 seed - San Francisco 49ers (2-10, at #15 based on head-to-head victory over New York Giants)
#16 seed - New York Giants (2-10)
That’s a look at the NFC Playoff Picture and why the Vikings are where they are, ladies and gentlemen. The Vikings control their own destiny as things stand right now. Here’s hoping it stays that way.