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First-round opponent likely the Lions

12/27/2011

The winner of Sunday night's game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants will win the NFC East and host a first-round playoff game the following weekend. Some of you have started asking who that team would play in that game. After Monday night's Saints-Falcons game, the picture is a little bit clearer, though still undetermined.

The NFC East champion will be the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs, and will play the No. 5 seed, which is the wild-card team with the better record. The wild-card teams will be the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons. Right now, the Lions are 10-5 and the Falcons are 9-6. So if the Lions beat the Packers OR the Falcons lose to the Buccaneers, the Lions would get the No. 5 seed and would be the visiting team in a playoff game Jan. 7 or Jan. 8 against the Giants in New Jersey or the Cowboys in Texas.

If the Lions lose to the Packers AND the Falcons beat the Bucs, the Falcons would be the first-round opponent for the homestanding NFC East champion.