Churchill: NFL Playoff Picture
It’s the final week of the 2013 NFL season and not much is settled in terms of the postseason. We have a good idea who will participate in the playoffs, but we aren’t sure about seedings, or division champions in the NFC. Let’s make sense of it all in both conferences.
1. Denver Broncos (12-3)
2. New England Patriots (11-4)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)
4. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
6. Miami Dolphins (8-7)
The Broncos can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win at Oakland or a Patriots loss versus Buffalo. If the Raiders trips the Broncos and New England wins, the Patriots win the tie-breaker with Denver.
If the Pats do lose and Cincinnati defeats visiting Baltimore, the Bengals will earn the No. 2 seed and first-round bye. If the Patriots and Bengals each lose and the Colts win at home over Jacksonville, Indy would earn the No. 2 seed.
The Chiefs are locked in as the No. 5 seed, but the final spot in the playoffs is up for grabs. Miami, Baltimore and San Diego are all 8-7 with the Dolphins holding the tie-breaker over the Ravens and Chargers due to conference record. If the Dolphins fall to the Jets in Miami and both Baltimore and San Diego win, the Ravens would get the No. 6 seed.
Needless to say, the Chargers are huge fans of the Jets and Bengals. San Diego may have the easiest matchup, since they are hosting a team in the Chiefs that aren’t playing for anything.
1. Seattle Seahawks (12-3)
2. Carolina Panthers (11-4)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6)
4. Chicago Bears (8-7)
5. San Francisco 49ers (11-4)
6. New Orleans Saints (10-5)
The Seahawks can wrap up the NFC West and home field advantage with a win at home versus the Rams or a loss by the 49ers on the road at Arizona. The Cardinals need a win and a Saints loss at home over Tampa Bay or their season is over. The Saints clinch the No. 6 seed with a win or Cardinals loss.
If Seattle falls and the 49ers win the Seahawks will drop to the No. 5 seed and will play on the road for at least the first two weeks of the playoffs. With a win, Carolina would be the top seed in this scenario. If the Panthers lose and San Francisco wins, the 49ers will be the No. 1 seed.
The Panthers do have to win on the road versus the Falcons, who had a chance to upset the Niners on the road on Monday night.
The No. 3 and 4 seeds are also still in doubt; If Dallas defeats Philadelphia Sunday and the Packers beat the Bears to win the NFC North, the Cowboys will be the No. 3 seed and the Packers the No. 4. If Dallas wins and Chicago holds serve at home, the ‘Boys will be the No. 4 seed and Chicago the No. 3.
The Eagles will be the No. 3 seed if they win, regardless of what occurs in the Bears-Packers matchup.
Among the most likely scenarios is a Packers-49ers matchup next week at Lambeau Field, considering both QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Randall Cobb are set to return at Soldier Field versus the fading Bears.
The lowest-seeded winners during the WildCard matchups visit the top seeds, with the other winner playing the No. 2 seed. With many looking forward to Seahawks-49ers Part III, San Francisco may have to beat Green Bay on the road, then the Carolina Panthers on the road, before getting another shot at Seattle. That’s assuming the No. 6 seed, likely the Saints, don’t beat the No. 3 seed, probably the Eagles, on the road.
Week 17 is going to be a wild ride. Buckle up.
– Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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