Rich Eisen of NFL Network got his hands on the updated scenarios for the number one playoff seed in the NFC, just released by Mike North of NFL Media Operations.
Four teams are technically still alive for the number one overall seed in the NFC: Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Chicago. Only Atlanta controls its own destiny, as the Falcons can lock up the top spot with a win over the 2-13 Carolina Panthers Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
The Falcons can only be the #1, #2 or #5 seed. Scenarios for the #1 seed in the NFC are as follows:
ATL gets NFC #1 with:
ATL win vs. Carolina-OR- * NO loss vs. TB CHI loss at GB 1 PHI loss (vs. Min or Dallas)
NO gets NFC #1 with:
NO win vs. TB ATL loss vs. Carolina
PHI gets NFC #1 with:
2 PHI wins (vs. Min and Dallas) ATL loss vs. Carolina NO loss vs. TB
CHI gets NFC #1 with:
CHI win vs. GB ATL loss NO loss 1 PHI loss
Atlanta can only be the #1, #2 or #5 seed - they cannot be seeded #3, #4 or #6. And it's also set in stone that the #5 seed (in most scenarios, New Orleans) is heading to either Seattle or St. Louis for a first round game.
Atlanta would drop to the #5 seed and be forced to play on the road in the Wild Card round against the Seahawks or Rams only with a loss to Carolina AND a Saints win at home versus Tampa Bay. A New Orleans loss would guarantee the Falcons at least the #2 seed and a first-round bye regardless of the outcome of Atlanta's game against Carolina. Some scenarios involving a Falcons week 17 loss still see the Falcons holding on to either the #1 or #2 seed.
The Falcons can make it very simple next week with a win against the Panthers.
What would the NFC landscape look like should all home teams win the remaining games on the docket? Seeding would look this way:
1 - Atlanta
2 - Philadelphia
3 - Chicago
4 - Seattle
5 - New Orleans
6 - Green Bay
And first round matchups would see Green Bay visiting division-rival Chicago for the third meeting of the season and New Orleans traveling to the west coast to face the Seahawks.
The lowest remaining seed from those two contests would then travel to Atlanta for a Divisional Matchup against the Falcons.