Last Updated: 2017-12-27
The final Sunday of the NFL regular season has one playoff spot on the line in the NFC. The Philadelphia Eagles clinched the No. 1 seed, while the Minnesota Vikings (12-3) are attempting to lock in the No. 2 seed and at least one home game before NFC Championship game. Moreover, the rest of the playoff seeds are up for grabs, including which team can claim the final wild card berth. As a result, the NFC has everything to play for, including where each team finishes in playoff seeding.
No. 6 Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers. +4
We won’t know if the Atlanta Falcons (9-6) or the Seattle Seahawks (9-6) will capture the final playoff berth until Sunday evening as both games get a late 4:25 et start. What we do know is, the Falcons have the upper hand going into Week 17. If they defeat the Carolina Panthers at home, they will become the third NFC South team to make the playoffs. However, a loss gives a real opportunity for the Seahawks to make an improbable run into the postseason. Just last week, many people thought the Seahawks’ season was finished after their pummeling at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. Now, they seem like a pretty good bet to move on.
No. 7 Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals -9
The Seahawks have not been great at home this season. They already have three losses in front of the 12s. As a result, a win over the Cardinals wouldn’t give them automatic access to the postseason. However, they don’t need a lot of help to get into the playoffs. All they have to do is win, while the Falcons lose. Regardless, this is the last home game for the Seahawks this season. If they move on, they will do so as the No. 6 seed thanks to a head-to-head loss to the Falcons.
No. 5 Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons. -4
With three teams tied at (11-4), there’s a two-team race for the second playoff bye. One of those teams are the Carolina Panthers. Currently, the Panthers are tied with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. However, they were swept by the Saints this season. As a result, the Saints are holding the lead over the Panthers and any record of equal value will give the Saints the better seed. Well, the Falcons are traveling to Atlanta in hopes of earning a bye. Usually, teams with (11-4) records don’t have much to play for in Week 17. In turn, they would rest starters for the upcoming postseason. However, the Panthers need three things to coincide with a win to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFL Playoffs. First, they would need the Vikings to lose. Then, they would need the Saints to lose or tie, while having the Rams lose or tie. If that happens, the Panthers would hold the No. 2 seed and an NFC South crown. Keep in mind, the Vikings play the 1 p.m. game, so teams should know exactly what they are playing for by the time the late games kickoff.
Side Note: If the Panthers lose, they will host the Falcons in the wild card round.
No. 4 New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7.5
The Saints just need to win to earn the NFC South division title. That win will also give the Saints a home game. Otherwise, they may find themselves on the road in a pivotal playoff matchup at Carolina.
No. 3 Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers. -4
For example, as the NFC West division winner, the Rams are already guaranteed one home game as the No. 3 or 4 seed. However, they can’t move to the No. 2 spot because of their head-to-head loss to the Vikings. They might be better suited to land in the No. 4 spot to possibly avoid a rematch with the Vikings in the divisional round. Currently, they are seeded No. 3. As a wild card participant, the Rams have the opportunity to play any of these three teams in the NFC South (New Orleans, Carolina, Atlanta). Or, they may face fellow NFC West opponent Seattle a few weeks after the blowout. However, the Rams will avoid the Vikings in the wild card round if chaos ensues on Sunday. As a result, the Rams should be more concerned with playing well and not positioning for a potential playoff run.
No. 2 Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears -12.5
Nobody believes the Vikings won’t seal the deal against the Bears. They are (6-1) at home and are playing great football. There’s also a great chance that the Vikings could play two home playoff games with a regular season finale win. Remember, quarterback Carson Wentz is out for Philadelphia and they may be prone to an upset during the divisional round. Therefore, it’s highly important for the Vikings to take care of business on Sunday. In fact, it will be a let down if they don’t earn a playoff bye week. Keep in mind, the Saints, or Rams can give the Vikings the No. 2 seed with a win. They will also earn a bye if the Panthers lose.
NFC Playoff Standings
- Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (12-3)
- Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
- New Orleans Saints (11-4)
- Carolina Panthers (11-4)
- Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
No. 7 Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
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