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NFC tiebreaking scenarios

You don't need me to tell you that an 11-5 team will be seeded higher than a 10-6 team, at least apart from division winners getting the top four seeds. What's complicated is what happens if two teams both finish 10-6. This post only deals with who wins such tiebreakers, and assumes that no remaining games on the schedule will end in a tie.

Division winners

NFC West

The Rams would win any tiebreaker for the division lead, including a 3-way tie with both the Cardinals and Seahawks. The Seahawks can clinch the division by beating the Rams, or by beating the 49ers while the Rams lose to the Cardinals.

NFC South

The Saints would win any tiebreaker for the division lead. The only way for the Buccaneers to win the division is for them to win the rest of their games while the Saints lose the rest of their games.

NFC North

The Packers have already clinched the division.

NFC East

Because the Eagles already have a tie, they cannot finish tied with anyone else unless another game ends in a tie. The Giants would win a 2-way tie with Washington. Washington would win a 2-way tie with the Cowboys. The Cowboys would win a 2-way tie with the Giants.

In case of a 3-way tie between the Giants, Cowboys, and Washington, it gets complicated. The Giants win the division if all three teams are 6-10. If all three teams are 7-9, Washington would win the division on division record if they arrive at 7-9 by beating the Eagles and losing to the Panthers. If all three are 7-9 and Washington gets to 7-9 by beating the Panthers and losing to the Eagles, the Giants win the division on common games.

Top four seeds

The NFC East champion will be the #4 seed and cannot possibly be tied with another division champion.

The Rams win all possible tiebreakers, whether two-way or three-way, including with the Packers, Saints, or Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers win a tiebreaker with the Packers. The Packers win a tiebreaker with the Saints. The Saints win a tiebreaker with the Seahawks. The Buccaneers win a tiebreaker with the Seahawks.

If the Packers beat the Titans, then the Seahawks win a tiebreaker with the Packers and the Saints win a three-way tiebreaker with the Seahawks and Packers. If the Packers lose to the Titans, then the Packers win a tiebreaker with the Seahawks, and would also win a three-way tiebreaker with the Saints and Seahawks.

Wild cards

Divisional tiebreakers

In case of a 3-way or larger tie among wild card teams, it starts by having tiebreakers within each division to have only one team from each division involved in tiebreakers with other divisions. The Cardinals win a tiebreaker with either the Rams or Seahawks. The Vikings win a tiebreaker with the Bears. No other ties are possible among wild card teams within a division.

Ties among teams from different divisions

The Rams win all possible tiebreakers, whether with the Saints, Buccaneers, or Bears, including a 3-way tie with both the Buccaneers and Bears.

The Bears win all possible tiebreakers not involving the Rams, whether a 2-way tie with the Cardinals or Buccaneers or a 3-way tie with the Cardinals and Buccaneers (at 9-7).

The Cardinals win a tiebreaker with the Buccaneers. The Saints win a tiebreaker with the Seahawks (at 10-6). The Vikings win a tiebreaker with the Cardinals (at 8-8).

If the Buccaneers beat the Falcons, then they win a tiebreaker with the Seahawks. If the Buccaneers lose to the Falcons but still end up tied with the Seahawks (at 10-6), then it goes to strength of victory, but both teams would be in the playoffs.

A tie between the Saints and Cardinals (at 10-6) would go to strength of victory, but both would be in the playoffs.