With just one week remaining in the regular season, five teams have already secured their place in the NFC playoffs.
Heading into Week 17, the Rams, Eagles, Vikings, Saints and Panthers have all clinched a playoff berth this year — with Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Minnesota all winning their respective divisions. But this weekend's games could have important implications moving forward — with the potential to shake up the current playoff seedings in the conference.
IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY:
With Los Angeles' 27-23 victory in Tennessee, the club (11-4) has clinched its first division title in over a decade and is guaranteed a home game in the Wild Card round. If the playoffs started today, the No. 3 Rams would host the No. 6 Falcons at the Coliseum for the first matchup.
CURRENTNFC PLAYOFF PICTURE:
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Carolina pulled off a close victory against the Buccaneers to clinch a spot in the playoffs and keep pace with New Orleans in the division.
at Falcons (9-6)
Atlanta's loss to the Saints in Week 16 did not take them out of the playoff picture just yet. But a very important matchup with the Panthers will secure their fate in Week 17.
IN THE HUNT:
- Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
OUTLOOK FOR WEEK 17:
Although the Rams have already clinched a division title and a playoff berth, this weekend could affect the team's seeding moving forward. There are also several important matchups taking place in the NFC that should have some big playoff implications.
No. 3 Rams vs. 49ers
The Rams returned from Tennessee with their first NFC West title since 2003. L.A. will host San Francisco at the Coliseum on Sunday to cap the regular season. But whether the Rams win or lose, Los Angeles is guaranteed home-field advantage in the Wild Card round.
And even with a loss on Sunday, the lowest the Rams will drop to is the No. 4 seed in the playoff picture. Even with a Vikings loss, the Rams cannot secure a first-round bye.
No. 1 Eagles vs. Cowboys
The top-seeded Eagles clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a close win over the Raiders. And at 13-2, Philadelphia has secured a first-round bye no matter what happens in Week 17 against the Cowboys.
No. 2 Vikings vs. Bears
The Vikings have already been crowned Kings in the North, but are now playing for a first-round bye. Minnesota will secure its place as the No. 2 seed with a Panthers loss or tie, a New Orleans win, a Rams win, or a victory of their own on Sunday.
No. 4 Saints vs. Buccaneers
New Orleans secured a playoff berth with their impressive victory over the Falcons in Week 16. This Sunday, the Saints will look to clinch the NFC South with a win over the Buccaneers, a Panthers loss, or a tie from both New Orleans and Carolina.
A Rams loss and a Saints win will also move New Orleans up to the No. 3 seed in the conference.
No. 5 Panthers vs. No. 6 Falcons
The matchup between the No. 5 Panthers and No. 6 Falcons is arguably the most important contest happening in the NFC this weekend.
Although Carolina has already clinched a playoff berth, the club still has the opportunity to take the NFC South title and clinch a first-round bye. A victory over the Falcons and a New Orleans loss or tie, will give the Panthers the division title. A Panthers' win, plus a New Orleans loss or tie, plus a Minnesota loss and a Rams loss or tie will move Carolina up to the No. 2 seed — guaranteeing the club a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Falcons, on the other hand, will clinch a playoff berth of their own if they can defeat the Panthers. Atlanta will also secure a trip to the postseason with a Seahawks loss or an Atlanta tie and a Seattle tie in Week 17.
No. 7 Seahawks vs. Cardinals
The Seahawks and Falcons are the only two NFC teams still in the hunt for a playoff berth this season. If Seattle can pull off a win at home to cap off the year and Atlanta loses or ties on Sunday, the Seahawks will make their sixth-straight playoff appearance. The club will also secure a playoff berth if it was to tie the Cardinals and the Falcons were to lose.