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NFC Playoff Picture and week 16 rooting guide: Help is needed from unlikely sources

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Christmas weekend and Seattle Seahawks fans would love nothing more than for several results to break favorably so that dreams of reaching the playoffs can remain alive.

Here are the updated NFC playoff standings:

#1 - Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)
#2 - Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
#3 - Los Angeles Rams (10-4)
#4 - New Orleans Saints (10-4)

#5 - Carolina Panthers (10-4)
#6 - Atlanta Falcons (9-5)


#7 - Detroit Lions (8-6)
#8 - Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
#9 - Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

Seattle is finished if they lose to Dallas, but even if they win, they need help, and some of the help required involves some bad teams pulling off upsets.

I’ve outlined the playoff scenarios here, and the most likely way the Seahawks qualify for postseason play is they win out and Atlanta loses out. This means that pulling for the New Orleans Saints to defeat the Falcons at home is a no-brainer. New Orleans should’ve won the first game, but Drew Brees got greedy and threw a back-breaking interception in the end zone when they were already in field goal range. Alvin Kamara missed most of that game due to a concussion, but when he’s healthy, he’s already proven he’s a serious game-changing running back. Geaux Saints!

The Detroit Lions need to lose (or tie) once for the Seahawks to overtake them. Detroit is at the Cincinnati Bengals, and Cincy is 5-9 and coming off a blowout loss to the Vikings. The Lions don’t have any bad losses on their slate, but they did need to squeak past both Tampa Bay and Chicago on the road. Cincinnati has an incredible streak of winning against NFC opposition at least once per season since they entered the NFL in 1970. This is their last chance to keep the streak alive, and I’m sure this fascinating yet meaningless statistic will motivate Marv Lewis’ players to spring the upset.

In Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers take on the 4-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose entire team is seemingly injured. If Carolina loses out and Seattle wins out, the Seahawks own the tiebreaker on the Panthers through conference record. Tampa Bay has lost six games by a maximum of six points, but their first meeting against Carolina saw them lose 17-3. I’m uh... not optimistic about this. Go Bucs, anyway.

In the interest of clinging to dying hopes of winning the NFC West, the Tennessee Titans host the Los Angeles Rams, who seem to be a much better road team than when they’re at home. The Titans are conclusively not a good team, which makes Seattle losing to them that much more irritating. Tennessee is 20th in DVOA and just lost consecutive games to Arizona and San Francisco. They might get destroyed by the Rams, but stranger things have happened. Root for the Titans, or else the Rams definitely win the division.

Teams to root for in week 16: Saints, Buccaneers, Bengals, Titans