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NFL playoff picture emerging

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Posted: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 9:37 am

The NFC playoff picture is even more wide open than the morass over in the AFC. All four divisions are up for grabs. Just three playoff spots are even accounted for. Let's break it down.

What we know

 » The Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers are in the playoffs. (The 49ers joined the party Monday with their thrilling sendoff to Candlestick Park. The Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are fighting for the other three spots.

The playoff picture

See where each team stands in the playoff picture heading into the final week of the 2013 NFL regular season. More ...

 » The wild-card teams will not come out of the NFC East or the North. The Eagles and Cowboys will play on Sunday night to decide the NBC NFC East. The Packers and Bears decide the North at 4:25 p.m. ET. The two "win or go home" victors will host games on Wild Card Weekend, because the byes are coming out of the NFC South and NFC West.

 » Seattle can clinch home-field advantage with a win over St. Louis on Sunday. Carolina clinches the NFC South and a bye with a victory in Atlanta. Philadelphia will be the No. 3 seed with a win in Dallas.

What we don't know

 » Aaron Rodgers' and Tony Romo's health loom over the entire conference. If Rodgers returns, the Packers should be considered the favorites to win in Chicago. Green Bay's defense is rough around the edges, but the Packers would have a shot to make some noise in the playoffs with Rodgers. We should get an answer about Rodgers earlier in the week this time around.

It's hard to imagine Kyle Orton leading Dallas to an upset victory against the Eagles if Romo is out. That's because it's hard to imagine Cowboys coordinator Monte Kiffin's defense holding the Eagles' offense under 40 points. Look for Dallas to string out the Romo drama all week.

We don't know the playoff byes, but there would have to be some upsets to keep Seattle and Carolina out of the top two spots.

Wild West

San Francisco didn't clinch a playoff spot until Monday night, but the 49ers remain alive for the No. 1 seed in the conference. The 49ers complete an improbable comeback to win the division if they win in Arizona on Sunday and the Seahawks fall at home to St. Louis.

It would be stunning to see the Seahawks lose two consecutive games in Seattle, but it was fairly stunning to see the Cardinals win there in Week 16. The Seahawks have major offensive line issues, and they have to face a Rams defensive front that abused them in St. Louis. Crazier things have happened. (But not many.)

If the 49ers somehow won the division, they likely would be headed for the No. 2 seed. To get home-field advantage, the 49ers need a win, with losses from the Seahawks, Panthers and Saints.

Arizona is in a tough spot. The Cardinals need to beat the 49ers and hope the Saints lose or tie against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are 4-3 since midseason, but they don't seem ready to win in the Superdome. A Saints win knocks out the Cardinals.

South not over yet

Carolina can't let up after its massive victory over New Orleans. The Panthers have to go on the road for a potentially tricky game in Atlanta. The Falcons gave the 49ers all they could handle on Monday night. Matt Ryan and Roddy White are playing better. The Falcons recently lost by four points to New Orleans in the Georgia Dome and by one point in Green Bay. The Panthers likely will be playing without Steve Smith.

The Saints only can win the NFC South and the No. 2 seed with a win and a Panthers loss. New Orleans can't be the No. 1 seed. The Panthers can earn the No. 1 seed with a win and a Seattle loss.

If that doesn't answer all your questions, perhaps our official playoff scenarios will help. And if that doesn't do it, we'll see you next season.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" broke down every Week 16 game.

NFC Playoff Picture
NFC East Wins Losses Ties .Pct
Philadelphia Eagles 9 6 0 .600
Dallas Cowboys 8 7 0 .533
NFC North Wins Losses Ties .PCT
Chicago Bears 8 7 0 .533
Green Bay Packers 7 7 1 .500
NFC South Wins Losses Ties .PCT
Carolina Panthers (x) 11 4 0 .733
New Orleans Saints 10 5 0 .667
NFC West Wins Losses Ties .PCT
Seattle Seahawks (x) 12 3 0 .800
San Francisco 49ers (x) 11 4 0 .714
Arizona Cardinals 10 5 0 .667
NFC Wild Card Wins Losses Ties .PCT
San Francisco 49ers (x) 11 4 0 .714
New Orleans Saints 10 5 0 .667
Arizona Cardinals 10 5 0 .667

(x) Clinched Playoff Berth

 
AFC Playoff Picture
AFC East Wins Losses Ties .Pct
New England Patriots (z) 11 4 0 .733
AFC North Wins Losses Ties .Pct
Cincinnati Bengals (z) 10 5 0 .667
AFC South Wins Losses Ties .Pct
Indianapolis Colts (z) 10 5 0 .667
AFC West Wins Losses Ties .Pct
Denver Broncos (z) 12 3 0 .800
AFC Wild Card Wins Losses Ties .Pct
Kansas City Chiefs (x) 11 4 0 .733
Miami Dolphins 8 7 0 .433
Baltimore Ravens 8 7 0 .433
San Diego Chargers 8 7 0 .433
Pittsburgh Steelers 7 8 0 .467

(x) Clinched playoff spot; (z) Clinched division

 

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HS Schedule

High School Basketball

(G) = Girl's game

Monday, Dec. 1

Mountain View vs. Boulder Creek 7 p.m.

@Marana vs. Palo Verde 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 2

(G) Pusch Ridge vs. Marana 6 p.m.

@Canyon del Oro vs. Amphi 7 p.m.

@Pusch Ridge vs. Marana 8 p.m.

Ironwood Ridge vs. Nogales 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 4

(G) Pusch Ridge vs. Pueblo 6:30 p.m.

(G) Marana vs. Nogales 7 p.m.

@Canyon del Oro vs. Nogales 7 p.m.

Pusch Ridge vs. Pueblo 8 p.m.

@Marana vs. Nogales 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 5

(G) @Marana vs. Cienega 7:30 p.m.

Canyon del Oro vs. Empire 7 p.m.

Ironwood Ridge vs. Basha 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 8

@Ironwood Ridge vs. Saguaro 7 p.m.

Marana vs. Catalina 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

(G) @Canyon del Oro vs. Sabino 7 p.m.

(G) @Marana vs. Empire 7:30 p.m.

Canyon del Oro vs. Sabino 7 p.m.

@Pusch Ridge vs. Douglas 7 p.m.

Ironwood Ridge vs. Buena 7:30 p.m.

Mountain View vs. St. Mary's

Marana vs. Empire 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 12

(G) @Marana vs. Catalina 7:30 p.m.

@Canyon del Oro vs. Rincon 7 p.m.

Pusch Ridge vs. Sahuarita 8 p.m.

@Ironwood Ridge vs. Cienega 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 13

@Ironwood Ridge vs. Mountain Pointe 5 p.m.

Mountain View vs. Moreau Catholic 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Mountain View vs. Valley Vista 7 p.m.

@Marana vs. Santa Rita 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Canyon del Oro vs. Walden Grove 7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 18

(G) Canyon Del Oro vs. Marana 7:30 p.m.

(G) @Mountain View vs. Flowing Wells 7 p.m.

@Canyon del Oro vs. Marana 7 p.m.

@Pusch Ridge vs. Miami 7 p.m.

Ironwood Ridge vs. Vista Grande 7 p.m.

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