By Danny Cox

With one week to go until the 2012 NFL playoffs, there are still a few things to be decided until all can be set in stone. Trying to figure out the mathematical equations that will allow one team to get in the playoffs over another though, well, it can sometimes require a degree. That being said, it is time to break that down so you know how things can be decided.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08: A detail of the official National Football League NFL logo is seen painted on the turf as the New York Giants host the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

(Credit, Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The AFC has made things simple for everyone as the six teams that are getting into the playoffs are already in. The NFC is a bit more complicated as nine teams are mathematically still alive.

Starting off, here is who is eliminated from playoff contention in the NFC:

  • St. Louis Rams
  • New Orleans Saints
  • TampaBay Buccaneers
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Detroit Lions
  • Philadelphia Eagles

Here are the three NFC teams that are still alive for a playoff spot:

  • Chicago Bears
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • New York Giants

NFC teams technically in the playoffs after week 16 – Listed by seed:

  1. Atlanta Falcons – Clinched home-field advantage / NFC South
  2. Green Bay Packers – Won NFC North
  3. San Francisco 49ers – Clinched playoff spot
  4. Washington Redskins
  5. Seattle Seahawks – Clinched playoff spot
  6. Minnesota Vikings

Looking at things on an even further scale would make this even more difficult to understand. Teams are ahead of others, even though they have the same record, because of divisional records, records against common opponents, and a host of other things. Let’s see though, just how and who can get into the NFC side of the playoffs with what happens in week 17.

The Green Bay Packers can clinch a first-round bye with a win or a tie and 49er loss or a 49er loss along with a Seahawks loss or tie.

The San Francisco 49ers can clinch the NFC West with a win or tie or a Seahawks loss or tie. From there, the 49ers can also clinch home-field advantage with a win and a Packers loss or tie. They can also get home-field advantage with a tie and a Packers loss.

The Seattle Seahawks can clinch the NFC West with a win and a 49ers loss. Seattle can still clinch a first-round bye, but they would need a win and a 49ers loss and a Packers loss.

The Washington Redskins can clinch the NFC East with a win or a tie over the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East simply with a win over the Redskins. Washington though, can clinch a playoff berth with a loss by the Bears and Vikings.

The New York Giants can clinch a playoff berth if all these things happen: Giants win and Cowboys loss or tie and Bears loss and Vikings loss.

The Minnesota Vikings can still clinch a playoff berth by just picking up a victory this weekend. If they tie, they would need the Bears to also lose or tie. Minnesota could get a playoff berth just by having the Cowboys lose or tie and the Giants lose or tie and the Bears lose.

Finally, the Chicago Bears can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Vikings loss or tie. They can also get into the playoffs with a tie and a Vikings loss.

If you’re trying to figure all this out in your head, then you’re a braver person than most. If you’re able to remember all of these scenarios without a scorecard, then you deserve more credit than anyone else.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest NFL news, see CBS Sports Las Vegas.


Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on

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