NFL playoffs: Breaking down the five-way tie for the final NFC Wild Card spot

With four weeks remaining on the regular season schedule, five teams sitting at 6-7 find themselves tied for the third and final NFC Wild Card spot.
Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

While the AFC can boast 11 teams with winning records, the NFC comes in just shy of half that total with five. And had the Minnesota Vikings not earned an ugly 3-0 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon, it would be just four.

But there are six NFC teams sitting just below .500 at 6-7 heading into Week 15, including five that are currently in a tiebreaker for the third and final Wild Card spot behind the Philadelphia Eagles (10-3) and Vikings (7-6).

The Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints are all tied for that spot. The sixth 6-7 team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lead the NFC South over the Falcons and Saints.

They own the common win percentage tiebreaker over the Falcons (the two teams split the season series), and they beat the Saints head-to-head.

So how does the NFL go about breaking the five-way NFC Wild Card tie?

First things first: divisions. The Rams own the tiebreaker over the Seahawks in the NFC West due to sweeping the season series, and the Falcons own the tiebreaker over the Saints in the NFC South due to beating them head-to-head earlier in the year. So the de facto three-way tiebreaker for the No. 7 seed comes down to the Packers, Rams, and Falcons.

Conference records are looked at first, which eliminates the Falcons, and the Packers beat the Rams head-to-head. So they slot into the provisional No. 7 seed. The Rams then slot into the No. 8 seed due to having a better conference record than the Falcons.

With the Rams slotted in, the Seahawks are now factored into the tie with the Falcons. The Seahawks own that tiebreaker due to a superior conference record, slotting them into the No. 9 seed. The Falcons then take the No. 10 seed due to their aforementioned head-to-head win over the Saints, who slot into the No. 11 seed.

What is interesting here is that because of how many teams are involved in the tie, not all head-to-head matchups are considered. Most notably, the Falcons beat the Packers head-to-head back in Week 2, yet they are slotted in three seeds lower at the moment.

There's still a lot that needs to happen before the NFC playoff picture is solidified, but given how things look right now, there is no guarantee that a massive tiebreaker won't be needed. There could be a team that ends up getting the short end of the stick.

Next. Chicago Bears looked like a different team coming out of their bye week and get a win. The Bears are suddenly a different team. dark

Let's not forget that there are two suddenly red-hot 5-8 teams lurking as well: the Chicago Bears and New York Giants. Given the lack of winning teams in the NFC, perhaps it was too soon to write them off at 2-7 and 2-8, respectively.