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NFC Playoff Picture, Week 17: A Detroit loss introduces more chaos

The Lions blew it, and it’s going to have ramifications for the playoffs.

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Detroit had a golden opportunity to officially clinch a playoff berth and put themselves in a strong position to win the NFC North, but now they’re left to wonder what might have been. Oh, and they still need to beat Green Bay next week or they might miss the playoffs entirely, not that they should feel any pressure whatsoever.

After Monday Night Football, here’s an updated look at the playoffs.

NFC Playoff Picture

  1. Dallas Cowboys, 13-2
  2. Atlanta Falcons, 10-5
  3. Seattle Seahawks, 9-5-1
  4. Detroit Lions, 9-6
  5. New York Giants, 10-5
  6. Green Bay Packers, 9-6

The big change here is that Seattle’s back up into the #3 seed, meaning they would (as of now) get the Packers, Lions or Redskins, depending on how next week turns out. Only the Packers are truly intimidating on that list, especially on the road in Seattle, but the Seahawks haven’t been looking like themselves.

Otherwise, Dallas and New York are still settled, and the Falcons still just need a win to lock up the #2 seed. Detroit needs to win next week to retain the #4 seed and get a home game, or they’ll flip-flop with Green Bay in these rankings. Washington, as we’ll see in a moment, can still sneak into the #6 seed.

In the hunt

Washington Redskins, 8-6-1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8-7

Thanks to Detroit’s loss, Washington controls their destiny. If they beat the Giants in the week’s final season, they’ll be in over the loser of the Lions-Packers game as the sixth week, setting up three NFC East teams in the postseason. That’s more than we need to see, frankly. Washington would look like easily the weakest team in the grouping, but they do have enough talent to make things interesting, even so.

The Buccaneers need several games to turn out just so to make it in, and with the Cowboys winning, they’re still technically alive. They just need to beat the Panthers and have the Colts, Cowboys, Lions, Titans, and 49ers win, and the Redskins have to tie the Giants. Piece of cake.