NFC South playoff scenarios

December, 15, 2010
12/15/10
2:54
PM ET
We have the complete list of every playoff-clinching scenario around the league over on our NFL Nation blog. But the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints each have multiple scenarios in which they can clinch a playoff spot this Sunday.

Let’s start with the 11-2 Falcons, who are leading the race for the NFC South title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Falcons can’t clinch either of those this weekend, so all we can talk about for now is how they can assure themselves a playoff berth and that’s really pretty simple.

The Falcons can clinch a spot if they go out to Seattle and win or tie against the Seahawks. So, the Falcons can control their own destiny on that one. But there are several other ways the Falcons can clinch a spot even if they lose to Seattle.

Those scenarios include a loss or tie by the New York Giants or a loss or tie by the Chicago Bears or a loss or a tie by the Green Bay Packers.

The clinching scenarios for the 10-3 Saints are much more complicated and there are actually five different formulas in which the Saints can be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Let’s run through them.
  • A win by New Orleans (at Baltimore), plus a Tampa Bay loss or tie, plus a loss or tie by the Giants.
  • A win by the Saints, plus a Tampa Bay loss or tie, plus a loss or tie by Chicago.
  • A New Orleans victory, plus a Tampa Bay loss, plus a Green Bay loss or tie.
  • A tie by the Saints, combined with a loss by Tampa Bay plus a loss by Green Bay.
  • A tie by the Saints, combined with a loss by Tampa Bay plus a loss by the Giants, plus a loss by the Bears.

At 8-5 and hosting the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Tampa Bay remains very much in the playoff picture. But there is no scenario in which the Bucs can clinch a berth this weekend.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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