With three weeks to go in the 2019 NFL regular season, there is still a lot to settle as far as the NFC playoffs are concerned. Only the NFC South has been clinched to this point, so there is plenty to figure out with seeding. Plus, home-field advantage is still there for the taking, with at least four teams within range to take it.
The Buccaneers may have been eliminated from playoff contention last week (by no fault of their own, as it was a Lions loss to the Vikings that did it), but there’s still a lot of fun football ahead if you’re a fan of the game. Let’s check in on which games are important in Week 15.
Games That Matter to the NFC Playoff Picture: Week 15
Why It Matters: For the visiting Bears, they’ll have to win out and get some help to have a shot at sneaking in and grabbing a wild card spot. They’ll have to beat out the Rams and Vikings for the No. 6 spot, which is a tough ask. But all they can do is go out and win the remaining games on their schedule, which is hard enough considering the final three-game stretch starts at Lambeau Field.
The Packers need to keep winning first and foremost to win the NFC North. They lead the division by one game over the 9-4 Vikings, so they can’t afford to slip up and lose out on a playoff home game. Plus, they currently hold the No. 2 seed, which would earn them a first-round bye, and they’re only one game out of being in position for home-field advantage.
Why It Matters: Believe it or not, this game has division title implications. Why? Because the NFC East is complete trash. The 6-7 Eagles are tied with the 6-7 Cowboys atop the division, so the final three weeks will determine which team gets in and gets to host a playoff game. We could potentially have a division winner at .500 or worse while the Rams could miss out of a playoff spot completely despite having a better record. Anyway, Philadelphia needs to win this game to keep pace — or surpass — Dallas.
Why It Matters: The 10-3 Seahawks, if the season ended right now, would visit the 6-7 Cowboys in the first round of the postseason. They trail the 49ers for the NFC West lead by one game, which means they need to win on Sunday to keep their division hopes alive. Obviously, there’s a massive difference between winning the West and getting a home playoff game (or a first-round bye) and having to hit the road for the Wild Card Round.
Vikings (9-4) @ Chargers (5-8) — Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Why It Matters: Minnesota is currently in possession of the No. 6 seed in the NFC, making this game a must-win. A road victory over Los Angeles would not only keep the Vikings in playoff position but also give them a shot at climbing up to the No. 5 seed. They could even pull into a tie for the NFC North lead if they win and the Bears upset the Packers.
Rams (8-5) @ Cowboys (6-7) — Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Why It Matters: This might be the biggest game of the week for the NFC, as both teams have a lot on the line. The Rams need to keep winning and get some help to put themselves in position for the No. 6 seed. The defending NFC champions aren’t going to catch the 49ers or Seahawks for the NFC West title, but given the inconsistency they dealt with earlier on in the year, they’ll probably be content to just make the playoffs and go from there.
As for the Cowboys, they’re locked in a tie with the 6-7 Eagles for the NFC East lead. Both teams have had chances to get an edge in recent weeks, but neither has taken advantage. The best-case scenario for Dallas is a home win over Los Angeles and a Philly loss in Washington.
Falcons (4-9) @ 49ers (11-2) — Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Why It Matters: After a big victory over the Saints last week, the 49ers are atop the NFC with an 11-2 record. They have to keep their momentum going this week, though, as the Packers, Saints and Seahawks are right on their heels. That shouldn’t be too difficult to do, as San Francisco gets to host Atlanta.
Colts (6-7) @ Saints (10-3) — Monday Night Football, 8:15 p.m. ET
Why It Matters: New Orleans, having already clinched the NFC South, is playing for a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. At 10-3, the Saints are currently hold the No. 3 seed, which makes the next three weeks extremely important. The top of the conference is stacked right now, so they may need some help along the way to get to a No. 1 or 2 seed.