Two out of four NFC divisions have already been clinched: the East by the Eagles and the North by the Bears. Falcons are still battling for the first place with the Saints in the South, while Rams and Seahawks do the same in the West.
As good as the Atlanta Falcons season is being with a 12-3 record -which is also the highest number of victories in the NFC- it hasn’t been sufficient to clinch division, as the defending champions New Orleans Saints (11-4) are also after a first-round bye. The good news for the Falcons are that despite having lost to the Saints on Monday Night Football by 17-14, they were able to afford losing it as they had a margin error, meaning that they continue to depend solely on themselves to finish in first place. Their rival will be the Carolina Panthers and the Falcons have the home field advantage where they have only lost to the Saints this season.
A victory was all that separated the Saints from the playoffs before defeating the Falcons, and with their win they have achieve it. This victory also gives them a chance to clinch division, as long as Atlanta doesn’t win their last game and they defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home.
In the West the St. Louis Rams have the lead (7-8) over the Seattle Seahawks (6-9), and due to one of those things that some like to call luck, others coincidence or simply destiny, both of them will be seeing their faces in the last game of the season at the Qwest Field in Washington.
The math here is easy: whoever wins clinches division, as simple as that. Seattle comes from a three-lost streak, while St. Louis ended with a series of two defeats this past weekend with a win against the San Francisco 49ers by 24-17. Despite these streaks, a win from the Seahawks would be granting them the advantage in the tie breaker, as they would be favored by a better win percentage in division games (4-2 over 3-2).
The Chicago Bears’ 11-win season has given them the number one place in the North, where the Green Bay Packers are fighting for what is left: a wild card. And their final game happens to be precisely against the Bears at home. Their qualification to the first round depends on two scenarios: a win, which would automatically qualify them without having to depend on other results, or a loss from the Giants on Week 17 that would grant them a playoff berth.
With the number one spot in the East already won by the Philadelphia Eagles (10-4), the Giants (9-6) rally for a first round ticket along with the Packers. Their last game is away against the Washington Redskins, and they are in need of a win as well as a loss from Green.
The playoffs are just around the corner, and those in need of a win know it pretty well, therefore we can expect the best from these teams on Week 17 when we will find out who clinches division in the South: Falcons or Saints, who wins the West: Rams or Seahawks, and who takes the last wild card: Giants or Packers.