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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC Bracket has everything but clarity; seeding, schedule, clinching scenarios

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC Bracket has everything but clarity; seeding, schedule, clinching scenarios

The NFC Playoff picture entering Week 16 has a little bit of everything but clarity.

After the top five teams, which are still wide-open in terms of positioning, the race for the final Wild Card spot is a four-man race.

Let's start with the basics in the NFC:

This week we saw the Minnesota Vikings (11-3) clinch the NFC North making two teams officially in the playoffs in the NFC. Additionally, the Philadelphia Eagles (12-2) will now have a first-round bye as one of the top two teams in the conference.

On the flip side, the Arizona Cardinals (6-8) were eliminated with their loss and the Green Bay Packers (7-7) were eliminated with their loss and Atlanta’s win this week.

READ ALSO: AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

For the Eagles (12-2), getting a win without Carson Wentz was huge in their preparation for the playoffs; even it was a close one. They now have a first round bye, thanks to their 34-29 win over the New York Giants and are one step closer to securing home-field advantage. A win against the Raiders this weekend, or a loss by the Vikings in Green Bay would do that for Philadelphia.

Minnesota at 11-3 is right behind them, only a game out of first place. They hold the tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Rams (10-4) and New Orleans Saints (10-4) because of early season matchups.  

After that, seeds No. 3-5 are a mess. A loss by the Seattle Seahawks (8-6) or a Rams win clinches the NFC West and either the third or fourth seed for Los Angeles.

For now they are No. 3 but it is a dogfight between New Orleans and the Carolina Panthers (10-4)  for the NFC South division title. The other will likely be the top Wild Card but nothing is set in stone. If both teams were to tie at the end of the year, the Saints would take the division.

Finally, there is some slight separation in the Wild Card race. Carolina’s 31-24 win over Green Bay was a huge relief to the Detriot Lions (8-6), Dallas Cowboys (8-6) and Seahawks,  who are still mathematically alive for the No 6 seed. The 10-4 Carolina Panthers are now just one win away from being in the postseason.

Momentarily the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) hold the final playoff spot and hold a tiebreaker over every team trailing them. With the Saints and Panthers only a game ahead, and Atlanta playing both of them in the final weeks, the Falcons can still make the playoffs. On the flip side, either the Panthers or the Saints can fall out of the playoff picture with two losses as well.

Seattle (8-6), Detroit (8-6) and Dallas (8-6) are not going anywhere quite yet. They both need two losses from the Falcons, Saints, or Panthers in the final two weeks to have a shot. In all likely hood, at least one 10-6 team will miss the playoffs. 

There are now four remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, with seven teams battling for it.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 16

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— y - #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (12-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings* (11-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (10-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (10-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (10-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
— Detroit Lions (8-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Green Bay Packers (7-7)
— Washington Redskins (6-8)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10)
— San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
— Chicago Bears (4-10)
— New York Giants (2-12)

*: Clinched Playoff Berth
x: Clinched Division
y: Clinched First Round Bye
z: Clinched homefield advantage

SEEDING NOTES:
— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Cowboys, and Seahawks.

RELATED: WEEK 16 NFL POWER RANKINGS

Week 16 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 23: Vikings at Packers (8:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Lions at Bengals (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Rams at Titans (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Falcons at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Buccaneers at Panthers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 24: Seahawks at Cowboys (4:25 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 25: Raiders at Eagles (8:30 p.m.)

NFC Week 16 Clinching Scenarios

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Philadelphia clinches homefield advantage throughout NFC playoffs:
1) PHI win
2) PHI tie + MIN loss or tie
2) MIN loss

MINNESOTA VIKING
Minnesota clinches first round bye:
1) MIN win + CAR loss or tie
2) MIN tie + LAR loss or tie + NO loss or tie + CAR loss

LOS ANGELES RAMS
Los Angeles clinches the NFC West:
1) LAR win or tie
2) SEA loss or tie

Los Angeles clinches a playoff berth:
1) DET loss or tie + CAR loss + ATL loss

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
New Orleans clinches the NFC South:
1) NO win + CAR loss
New Orleans clinches a playoff berth:
1) NO win or tie
2) DAL-SEA tie

CAROLINA PANTHERS
Carolina clinches a playoff berth:
1) CAR win or tie
2) DAL-SEA tie

ATLANTA FALCONS
Atlanta clinches a playoff berth:
1) ATL win or tie
2) ATL tie + DAL-SEA tie + DET loss or tie

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When is Super Bowl 2018? Date, time, location, odds, TV channel, halftime performer

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USA Today Sports Images

When is Super Bowl 2018? Date, time, location, odds, TV channel, halftime performer

Super Bowl LII (52) will feature the New England Patriots/ Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC Champion) against the Minnesota Vikings/ Philadelphia Eagles (NFC Champion) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4, 2018.

If they go on to advance, the Vikings would become the first team to ever ‘host’ the Super Bowl in their home stadium. They are the third to play the game in their home state. Minnesota will be looking for their first Super Bowl title in five tries, the most appearances by any team without a championship.

Philadelphia is looking for their first title ever as well, and doing it with a back-up quarterback Nick Foles. They have been the underdog in every game this postseason; it would be no different in the Super Bowl.

New England is looking for their third Super Bowl over the past four years and their sixth championship since 2001. However, their path in the AFC Playoffs is arguably the easiest in their history. A win by the Patriots would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in NFL history with six.

The new kids one the block, the Jaguars are one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance in what is already the best year ever for the franchise. If Jacksonville were to pull it off, they would be the tenth team in NFL history to win in their first Super Bowl appearance.

Super Bowl LII Information:

When is Super Bowl 52?

6:15 pm ET, February 4, 2018

Who is playing in Super Bowl 52?

New England Patriots/ Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings/ Philadelphia Eagles

Where is Super Bowl 52?

U.S. Bank Stadium, Minnesota

How can I watch Super Bowl 52 on TV?

NBC

Where can I stream Super Bowl 52?

The Super Bowl can be streamed for free on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app.

Who are the announcers for Super Bowl 52?

Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya, Heather Cox

Who is performing the Super Bowl 52 halftime show?

Justin Timberlake is the Pepsi Super Bowl halftime performer. It is his third Super Bowl performance, previously performing in Super Bowl XXV and more famously in XXVIII with Janet Jackson.

What are the odds for Super Bowl 52?

New England Patriots: 6/5
Minnesota Vikings: 7/4
Philadelphia Eagles: 7/1
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8/1

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 21, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 44
—NFL Draft (4/26) 95
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 231

Need to Know No. 2000

This is a special edition of Need to Know. It was 2,000 days ago, on July 31, 2012, that this post designed to give Redskins fans the news and views they need to get their days started was posted for the first time. And it has gone up every single morning since that day, 2,000 mornings in a row.

There is no reliable way to measure how many have read the post since site redesigns and name changes have made reliable tracking difficult. But NTK page views are estimated in the tens of millions. Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting, both on the site and on social media. It’s the passion of Redskins fans that makes the job so enjoyable.

Here is a look back at some of the “landmark” editions of Need to Know. I can’t like to all of them because of the aforementioned changes but it’s an interesting, random walk through Redskins history.

No. 1, “Hits to the depth chart”, 7/31/12—The Redskins were trying to deal with the losses of LB Jonathan Goff, who had suffered a season-ending knee injury, and G Kory Lichtensteiger, who was out after getting his knee scoped. Also, the Saints, who were the Redskins’ opponent in the opener, were complaining about the Bountygate penalties. A lot. See, even during training camp in 2012, NTK was able to look beyond RG3 hysteria to get you to the other important stories of the day.

No. 500, “Nickel coverage—Jordan Reed misses practice”, 12/13/13—Yes, the more things change the more things stay the same. The talented tight end, then a rookie, was still trying to a recover from a concussion he suffered a few weeks earlier. Reed ended up going on injured reserve, missing the last six games. Also, Mike Shanahan said that didn’t pay any attention to all of the negative talk about the team in the media and Kyle Shanahan said that didn’t have any input into the decision to bench RG3 and play Kirk Cousins. Both claims were greeted with skepticism.

No. 1,000, “Can the Redskins draft an immediate O-line starter?”, 4/27/15—This was just a couple of days before the draft. Brandon Scherff, who ended up being Redskins’ top pick at No. 5 overall, is not mentioned but he did indeed become the team’s selection. This was Scot McCloughan’s first draft and the identity of the Redskins’ first pick was still a mystery. Although Scherff’s name often came up, most mocks had them going with edge rusher Dante Fowler, who ended up going to the Jaguars at No. 3.

No. 1,500, “Redskins searching for back to back playoff spots”, 9/8/2016—This was a “By the numbers” look at the team as it approached their season opener against the Steelers. They were coming off of a playoff berth in 2015 and, as we know now, their streak of consecutive seasons without going to the playoffs at least two straight years would continue. In 2016 were able to stop a 19-year streak of not having back to back willing seasons, just barely, by going 8-7-1. One more interesting number from the post—Kirk Cousins’ pass completion percentage at home in 2015 was 74.7 percent, the highest in NFL history.

Again, thanks for reading. See you tomorrow for edition No. 2,001.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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