Devin Aromashodu and Bears have muddied up the playoff picture

Devin Aromashodu and Bears have muddied up the playoff picture

After the Chicago Bears 36-30 win over the once-thought-to-be-indestructible Minnesota Vikings last night, there are plenty of playoff scenarios that could play out on the final week of the season.

We know two things for sure. First, the six teams in the playoffs are the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. Second, the Saints own the top seed and have home field advantage throughout.

So, where does that leave everyone else?

Four teams can claim the second seed – Philadelphia, Minnesota, Arizona and Dallas. The Packers, meanwhile, will be either the fifth or sixth seed.

I’ll try to simplify this as much as possible from here on out.

The Philadelphia Eagles control their own destiny. If they beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, they will own the No. 2 seed and clinch a first round buy. If the Eagles lose to the Cowboys, they are either the fifth or sixth seed. In the latter scenario, the Eagles will be fifth if the Packers lose to the Cardinals, sixth if the Packers win.

The Minnesota Vikings will be the second, third or fourth seed. If the Vikings beat the New York Giants and the Cowboys beat the Eagles, the Vikings will be the second seed. If the Vikings beat the Giants and the Eagles beat the Cowboys, the Vikings are the third seed. If the Vikings lose to the Giants and the Cardinals lose to the Packers, the Vikings are the third seed. If the Vikings lose to the Giants, the Cardinals beat the Packers and the Eagles beat the Cowboys, the Vikings are the fourth seed.

The Arizona Cardinals will be the second, third or fourth seed. If the Cardinals beat the Packers, the Cowboys beat the Eagles and the Vikings lose to the Giants, the Cardinals will be the second seed. If the Cardinals beat the Packers, the Eagles beat the Cowboys and the Vikings lose to the Giants, the Cardinals are the third seed. If the Cardinals beat the Packers, the Cowboys beat the Eagles and the Vikings beat the Giants, the Cardinals are the third seed. In any other scenario, the Cardinals are the fourth seed.

The Dallas Cowboys can claim any seed from the second to the sixth, except the fifth. The Cowboys are the second seed if they beat the Eagles and the Vikings and Cardinals lose. The Cowboys are the third seed if they beat the Eagles, the Vikings lose to the Giants and the Cardinals beat the Packers. The Cowboys are the fourth seed if they beat the Eagles and both the Vikings and Cardinals win. The Cowboys are the sixth seed if they lose to the Eagles.

The Green Bay Packers will be the fifth or sixth seed. The only way the Packers will move down to the sixth seed is if they lose to the Cardinals and the Cowboys beat the Eagles. Any other combination of wins and losses will leave the Packers as the fifth seed.

The Packers are still most likely to play Arizona in round one of the playoffs, but Dallas and Minnesota are also possibilities.

For the Packers to play the Cowboys, the following would have to happen – the Cowboys beat the Eagles, the Packers lose to Arizona and the Vikings lose to the Giants. In that scenario, the Cowboys claim the third seed and the Packers drop to sixth.

For the Packers to play the Vikings, the following would have to happen – the Eagles beat the Cowboys, the Packers lose to the Cardinals and the Vikings lose to the Giants. The Packers would remain as the fifth seed, but Minnesota would drop to four, setting up the third Packers/Vikings game of the season.

Here’s an closer look at each team’s remaining games.

Giants @ Vikings (noon)
Packers @ Cardinals (3:15)
Eagles @ Cowboys (3:15)

What could make Sunday especially interesting is what happens in the Vikings game, which is the only early game of consequence. If the Vikings lose, the Cardinals will be playing for a higher seed.

The Giants were embarrassed 41-9 by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and although they showed some clear deficiencies (like being unable to tackle anyone), pride should make the Giants play the Vikings tough. If that isn’t enough, the Vikings are reeling, having lost three of their last four.

Sunday has the makings of a wild finish to an interesting season, unless you’re from Detroit, where the Lions will receive a visit from the Bears.

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