[Update/Correction: The original post said that Washington can clinch with a win against the Giants. There is one scenario where that does not occur, and so they must wait until the conclusion of the Sunday Night Game. If Green Bay and Detroit finish in a tie game, leaving all three teams at 9-6-1, then Green Bay would win the NFC North based on head-to-head over the Lions (one win, one tie), and then the Lions would get the final wildcard based on their head-to-head win over Washington.]
The AFC field is set, with only the order to be determined in week 17. In the NFC, three of the divisions are decided, with only the NFC North to be determined on Sunday night when the Packers face the Lions. The Giants are one of the wildcards, and the remaining slot will either go to the runner-up in the NFC North, Washington, or Tampa Bay (who are basically eliminated but have a very slim chance).
Here are the scenarios for that final playoff spot in the NFC:
–Detroit clinches at least a wildcard with a win at Dallas, who already clinched the #1 seed. (that result would also officially eliminate Tampa Bay, for reasons I’ll detail below).
–If Detroit loses to Dallas, then Washington would earn the final wildcard spot with a home win over the Giants, and the Green Bay/Detroit game would officially become an elimination game for the NFC North.
–If Detroit loses to Dallas, and then Washington loses or ties the Giants in week 17, the scenarios become more complicated. They mostly involve the NFC North runner-up getting the last spot.
With a Washington loss, either Green Bay or Detroit at 9-7 would win a tiebreaker over Tampa Bay, even if the Buccaneers win against the Panthers. Detroit wins the common games tiebreaker, with Tampa’s home loss to the Rams proving vital. Green Bay wins either the strength of victory or strength of schedule tiebreakers.
Currently, both teams have the same “strength of victory” at 59 wins and 1 tie. But, with the division matchups and results that must happen to get to that 9-7 tiebreaker, Green Bay has the advantage, and Tampa can only tie (if a bunch of results go their way.) Tampa Bay cannot win the strength of schedule even if those results happen.
–Tampa Bay’s only possible path to getting into the postseason is basically a 8-team parlay, which requires that one of the games ends in exactly a tie. Here is that parlay:
Bucs win, Colts win, Cowboys beat Lions AND Eagles, Lions beat Packers, Titans beat Texans, 49ers beat Seahawks, and finally, Washington and New York ends in exactly a tie.
They need all of those to force a three-way tiebreaker with the Lions and Redskins (thus eliminating the common games tiebreaker) and win it on Strength of Victory. Green Bay would win a three-way tiebreaker (involving a Washington tie) with Washington and Tampa Bay at 9-7 and 8-6-2. Washington would win a tiebreaker with Green Bay with a tie, and a Tampa Bay loss to Carolina, based on their head-to-head win.
Here are the remaining seeding situations in the AFC and NFC:
#1 Seed: New England with a win, or an Oakland loss. Oakland must win and then have New England lose to Miami.
#2 Seed: Kansas City must win, and have Oakland lose, to win the AFC West and get the 2-seed. New England falls to here if Oakland wins and they lose. Oakland gets it with a win, and a New England win.
#3 Seed: Pittsburgh is locked in.
#4 Seed: Houston is locked in.
#5 Seed and #6 Seed: The AFC West runner-up will be the 5-seed and Miami the 6-seed, unless Miami beats New England and Kansas City loses to San Diego, in which case they flip.
#1 Seed: Dallas is locked in.
#2 Seed: Detroit if they win out both games. If Detroit loses a game, then Atlanta with a win, or Seattle loss. Seattle if they win, and Atlanta loses to New Orleans, and Detroit loses a game.
#3 Seed and #4 Seed: Atlanta can finish no lower than #3 with a win. Seattle can drop to the #4 seed with a loss. NFC North winner will be the #4 seed unless it is Detroit winning out, or Atlanta or Seattle lose.
#5 Seed: New York Giants are locked in.
#6 Seed: see above.