NFC Playoff Scenarios for Week 18

Six NFC teams have punched their ticket to the postseason, including three from the East: the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3), Dallas Cowboys (12-4), and New York Giants (9-6-1). The Minnesota Vikings (12-4), San Francisco 49ers (12-4), and Tampa Bay Bucs (8-8) have clinched their divisions.

That leaves three teams competing for the seventh seed in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers are all 8-8 going into Week 18. The Packers control their destiny. Win, and they’re in, as they host the Lions as a 4.5-point favorite, making them the team to beat.

It’s debatable who has the more enviable position between the Lions and the Seahawks. I’d rather be in Detroit’s position, even though Seattle has the easier game. They need the Seahawks to lose as a 6.5-point favorite to the Los Angeles Rams, then Lions-Packers becomes a de facto play-in game.

Seattle is more likely to win on Sunday; however, they still require help. They would need to rely on an eliminated Lions team to upset the streaking Packers on Sunday Night Football. That line is 4.5 now, but you know it will move if it turns out Detroit has nothing to play for. 

Rather fortunate for the Packers, don’t you think? I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but…

The NFC East and the NFC’s No. 1 seed are also up for grabs in Week 18. 

If the Eagles can beat the New York Giants, who have nothing to play for, they will clinch the division and home-field advantage. Locked in as the sixth seed, the G-Men are expected to rest starters on Sunday, part of the reason Philly is a 14-point favorite at FanDuel

What happens if the Eagles lose their third-straight game? It opens the door for the Cowboys and 49ers. In that scenario, San Francisco, also a 14-point favorite over the Arizona Cardinals, would earn the top seed with a win. Both teams play at 4:25 on Sunday. 

Regardless of what the Niners do, if the Eagles lose, the Cowboys could claim the NFC East with a win at the Washington Commanders, where they are a seven-point favorite. That’s also a 4:25 start. If both SF and Philly falter (+5154 ML two-leg parlay), Dallas has a chance at the No. 1 seed. 

A loss by the Eagles wouldn’t be an eliminator for the division or the No. 1 seed. If Dallas loses, Philly wins the East. If Dallas and San Francisco lose, Philly backs into home-field advantage. An unlikely scenario, as a two-leg Cardinals-Commanders ML parlay would pay +2564.