A rundown of what can happen to the NFL playoff picture as we head into week 17’s schedule. For reference, here’s what the playoff field looks like at the moment. Some things are set, but a few could change.
The NFC South: Both the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints have a chance to take the division, and the home field advantage that comes with it. The Falcons need only to beat the Carolina Panthers, a team they’re favored against by more than two touchdowns. The Saints need a Falcons loss and a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The NFC West: The St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks play on Sunday Night Football in a virtual play-in game. Just like March Madness’ play-in game, the winner will make a token appearance in the next round.
NFC bubble teams: The Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Bucs are fighting for the last NFC playoff spot. If the Packers beat the Chicago Bears, they’re in. Giants can make it in if they beat the Washington Redskins and the Packers lose. Tampa has the toughest road, needing to beat the Saints and hope both other bubble teams lose:
Chicago’s home field chances: If the Bears win, Falcons lose to the Panthers, and Saints lose to the Bucs, Chicago earns the No. 1 seed. Falcons and Saints fans alike can agree here: no NFC South team wants to play outdoor January games near a giant lake in Illinois.