Week 15 is almost upon us and it’s time to look at playoff scenarios for the NFC North.
NFC North Standings
Green Bay 7-6
Detroit: at New York Giants, at Dallas, Green Bay
Minnesota: Indianapolis, at Green Bay, Chicago
Green Bay: at Chicago, Minnesota, at Detroit
Detroit is firmly in the driver’s seat for the North title but has three tough games to play. Two of those games are on the road and the Packers game could be huge in Week 17 if Detroit drops the other two (or one of the other two games and Packers win next 2).
Detroit could clinch the division this week if they win and Green Bay loses at Chicago. Chicago is 3-3 at home so do not count them out in this game. The Bears beat Minnesota and Detroit already at Soldier Field and crushed the 49ers recently. Detroit could beat New York or Dallas and Vikings beat Packers will also give Detroit the title.
Detroit would need to lose out and Minnesota win out for the Vikings to win the North. Green Bay can win the North by winning 2 of 3 as long as one win is over Detroit and Detroit loses their other 2 games for 9-7 finishes. Green Bay can also win the division by winning out to get to 10-6 and Detroit winning only one against either New York or Dallas. Both would be 10-6 but Green Bay would have the season sweep in that scenario.
New York Giants: 9-4
Detroit, at Philadelphia, at Washington
New York probably can’t catch Dallas unless they drop 2 of 3 for the NFC East. New York should be in the driver’s seat for the 5th seed. Detroit against New York is a huge game for the wild card if Detroit loses at Dallas and to Green Bay.
Tampa Bay: 8-5 (unless they win South)
At Dallas, at New Orleans, Carolina
Tampa Bay can win the NFC South. They have a tougher schedule than Atlanta but are a hot team. They still have a great shot for the wild card as the current 6th seed.
Atlanta: 8-5 unless they win the South)
San Francisco, at Carolina, New Orleans
Atlanta has faded some after a hot start but has an easier schedule than Tampa Bay. Divisional games will be a factor due to a season split with Tampa Bay.
Carolina, at Chicago, New York
The Redskins won’t need tiebreakers due to the tie earlier in the season. Washington winning 2 of 3 would put them in over any 9-7 teams but it looks probable 10 wins will be needed for that 6th seed. Washington may have to win out.
The Packers and Vikings may need to get to 10 wins to get a wildcard. This means they need to win out if they have to get a wildcard if Detroit doesn’t falter in the next 2. Green Bay plays Minnesota so they both can’t win out. That will be a huge game. Detroit winning their next 2 games (11-5) and Green Bay or Minnesota winning out would be an interesting scenario with Green Bay and Minnesota battling Tampa/Atlanta or Washington for a wildcard.
Tampa Bay (2 wins of 3) and New York (1 win of 3) seem probable for 10 wins and Washington (2 wins of 3) seems probable for 9-6-1 at least which would trump 9-7 teams. Washington winning out would top a 10-6 team.
Detroit winning one game gets them to 10 wins but that might not be enough for the division if the Packers win out. Detroit being in the playoffs then would come down to the tiebreaker over the 10-6 Falcons or Buccaneers and Washington would be 9-6-1 (if they lose one game). Falcons or Tampa Bay and Detroit would all have 8-4 conference records at that point. The next tiebreaker is common games and they don’t have 4 common games. Therefore it would go to strength of victory. Detroit has been in many close games and would probably miss the wildcard spot in that scenario even at 10-6. I may punt Raji in that scenario..
First Round Byes
Los Angeles, Arizona, at San Francisco
Tampa Bay, Detroit, at Philadelphia
The Lions are the only team in the North that will have a realistic shot at a bye. Seattle has an easy schedule but divisional games are always close. Detroit may need to win out for a bye or win 2 of 3 and hope the Seahawks drop a divisional game. If Detroit wins out and Dallas loses to either the Eagles or Tampa Bay, Detroit could get home field advantage at 12-4.
There you have it. It should be a fun final three weeks and playoffs.