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DLT's Wild and Crazy NFC Playoff Scenarios - Week 15 2016

Our updated Scenarios! The More things change the more they stay the same!

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

We're one week closer to finding out who will be in the Lombardi Trophy tournament known as the NFL Playoffs. Unfortunately, Week 14 didn't do much to really decide anything.

Current Playoff Standings

W-L-T Div W-L-T Conf W-L-T Rem Games
Div Leaders
X-Cowboys 11-2 3-2 7-2 TB, DET, atPHI
Lions 9-4 3-2 7-2 atNYG, atDAL, GB
Seahawks 8-4-1 1-1-1 4-4-1 LA, ARI, @SF
Falcons 8-5 3-1 6-3 SF, atCAR, NO
Wild Cards
Giants 9-4 3-1 6-3 DET, atPHI, at WAS
Buccaneers 8-5 3-1 6-3 atDAL, atNO, CAR
In The Hunt
Redskins 7-5-1 3-2 5-4 CAR, atCHI, NYG
Vikings 7-6 1-3 4-6 IND, atGB, CHI
Packers 7-6 2-1 5-4 atCHI, MIN, atDet
Cardinals 5-7-1 2-1-1 4-4-1 NO, atSea, at LA

Z-Home Field Y-Divison Champion X- Clinched Playoff Berth

The Contenders

Dallas remains in control of the NFC, but Detroit has moved into the second spot (and a first round bye) after Seattle stubbed their proverbial toes in Green Bay. Atlanta still holds on to their razor thin hold on the NFC South as the Buccaneers keep the pressure on.

The Giants' huge win over Dallas has them sitting pretty for the fifth seed and keeps them in play for a division crown (although they need a bunch of help).

The Redskins are still in the mix, while the Vikings and Packers need to win out and get some help. The Cardinals are hanging on by a thread. They need to win out and get a LOT of help.

What Happened Last Week?

The Bucs basically ended the Saints hopes (barring a miracle). Same goes for the Eagles, who blew a shot at a big win over Washington to pretty much end their chances.

Atlanta destroyed the Rams, ending Jeff Fisher's reign of terror. The Giants shocked the Dallas Cowboys, preventing their coronation and having some question a quarterback that had led his team to 11 straight victories. It's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, huh?

Green Bay bitch slapped Seattle while Minnesota got by the skin of their teeth in Jacksonville. Arizona's rally in rainy Miami fell a little short, as they lost in overtime.

How Are the Bucs Looking?

Still in pretty good shape. The Bucs could have used a little help around the league last week to make things a bit more comfortable but Tampa Bay did what it had to do and still are in full control of their playoff fate.

Of course, a loss to Dallas and the Bucs are looking nervously on Monday Night at Carolina in hopes they can retain that control.

NFC South Championship Hopes

Atlanta took a step closer thanks to a Rams team who decided it no longer wanted to play for coach Jeff Fisher (and who can blame them?). Atlanta certainly has the favorable schedule down the stretch with a home game against the putrid 49ers, a game at Carolina and then the home finale against New Orleans.

We know Ron Rivera's Panthers will fight to the bitter end, but will the Saints? After the Bucs basically ended their hopes it will be interesting to see if New Orleans starts playing like they have their vacation plans in order.

Bottom line, no matter what happens with Dallas this week - the Bucs would need to beat New Orleans and Carolina and have Atlanta lose at Carolina or at home against New Orleans to win the NFC South.

Wildcard Scenarios

If the Bucs go 2-1

If the Bucs fall in Dallas (or beat Dallas but lose to New Orleans or Carolina), its not the end of the world. Tampa Bay will still have tie-breaker advantages over both Green Bay and Minnesota. Where it gets hairy is Washington. Tampa Bay would need the Redskins to lose one of their three remaining games.

The best Washington can finish if they win out is 10-5-1, which of course would beat out the Bucs at 10-6. So no matter what happens on Sunday Night Football, root for the Panthers against Washington - they are the Bucs' greatest threat.

If The Bucs go 1-2

Yikes. Washington's rally over Philly hurt this scenario. The Redskins would need to lose 2 of their last three games. Both Minnesota and Green Bay would need to drop at least one game (they play each other Week 16).

If the Bucs go 0-3

Umm, it's about over. They would need the Redskins to lose out (unlikely). They would need both the Packers and The Vikings to drop two of three and they would need Arizona to lose at least once. They'd need for the 5-8 teams to stay out of the conversation by dropping a game somewhere along the line.

Can the Bucs Clinch a playoff spot this week?


Clinching Scenarios



NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (11-2) (at Denver (8-5), Sunday)

New England clinches AFC East division with:

  1. NE win or tie OR
  2. MIA loss or tie

New England clinches a first-round bye with:

  1. NE win or tie OR
  2. MIA loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
  3. MIA loss or tie + KC win

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-3) (vs. Tennessee (7-6), Sunday)

Kansas City clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. KC win OR
  2. KC tie + MIA loss OR
  3. KC tie + DEN loss or tie OR
  4. DEN loss + BAL loss or tie OR
  5. DEN loss + PIT loss or tie

OAKLAND RAIDERS (10-3) (at San Diego (5-8), Sunday)

Oakland clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. OAK win OR
  2. OAK tie + MIA loss OR
  3. OAK tie + DEN loss OR
  4. OAK tie + MIA tie + DEN tie OR
  5. OAK tie + MIA tie + KC win OR
  6. MIA loss + PIT loss or tie + DEN loss OR
  7. MIA loss + PIT loss or tie + KC win or tie OR
  8. MIA loss + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss OR
  9. MIA loss + BAL loss or tie + KC win or tie


CLINCHED: Dallas – playoff berth

DALLAS COWBOYS (11-2) (vs. Tampa Bay (8-5), Sunday night)

Dallas clinches NFC East division and a first-round bye with:

  1. DAL win + NYG loss or tie OR
  2. DAL tie + NYG loss

Dallas clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. DAL win + NYG/DET tie

DETROIT LIONS (9-4) (at New York Giants (9-4), Sunday)

Detroit clinches NFC North division with:

  1. DET win + GB loss or tie OR
  2. DET tie + GB loss + MIN loss or tie

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-4-1) (vs. Los Angeles (4-9), Thursday night)

Seattle clinches NFC West division with:

  1. SEA win or tie OR

  2. AZ loss or tie

NEW YORK GIANTS (9-4) (vs. Detroit (9-4), Sunday)

New York clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. NYG win + WAS loss + MIN loss or tie + GB loss or tie

Who to Root For This Week and Why

Bucs to beat Dallas - It would be a huge victory and an major lift to the Bucs playoff chances for Tampa Bay to win this ballgame. This has been the game everyone points to as the difference between the Bucs and the Falcons. If the Bucs win this game, then Tampa Bay and Atlanta basically have the same schedule (in different order) down the stretch.

Rams to beat Seattle - Hey, if the Bucs do win the NFC South, then they could potentially jump the Seahags into the third seed with a nasty loss here.

Bears to beat the Packers - Gives Green Bay that all important 7th loss.

Lions to beat the Giants - Updated: I switched this from either way to the Lions beating the Giants thanks to the great insight of commentor chibullsareback. A Lions win would essentially give the Bucs two avenues to make it to the playoffs if they were to finish 2-1. Tampa Bay would need either the Giants to finish 10-6 (they own the tie-breaker over New York) or Washington to finish 9-6-1. They play each other at the end of the season, so an additional loss by the Giants before that season finale has the Bucs going in either way. If the Bucs win in Dallas, this would move Tampa Bay into the 5th seed. Of course, if the Giants win, it could also help the Bucs if they happen to win the NFC South, as the Lions hold on the second seed would suddenly become tenous. So, if you believe the Bucs will win the NFC South, root for the Giants. If you believe the Bucs will need to get in as a wild card, root for the Lions.

Colts to beat the Vikings - Gives them that all important 7th loss as well.

Saints to beat the Cardinals - Finish them off.

49ers to shock the world and beat the Falcons - Hey, it happens. Look at 2013 when a horrible 2-win  Bucs team went into New Orleans and stunned the 13-1 Saints.

Panthers to knock off the Redskins - No matter what happens on SNF, the Bucs would benefit greatly from this happening.