We control our own destiny for winning the division. For most of the season, most analysts were saying 8-8 will win the division. We as fans never even contemplated the wild card scenarios. But now that both the Cowboys and the Eagles are looking pretty good, that’s suddenly a possibility. So let’s see what we have.
I really, really doubt that we could get a wild card with a 9-7 record. So these scenarios assume that the Eagles win out and finish 11-5 and we finish 10-6, having lost the last game to the Eagles. The main candidates for the wild card right now are the Saints, Panthers, 49ers, and Cardinals. I am conceding that the Panthers/Saints will almost surely grab one of the spots. So really, we’re only concerned about the 49ers/Cardinals.
Scenario #1 – Panthers win division
The Panthers beat the Saints twice and win their division. The Saints take care of the lowly Rams and Bucs and finish 11-5. The 49ers drop 2 games to the Seahawks and Cardinals and finish 10-6. The Cardinals lose to the Seahawks (it’s in Seattle and I hope they have something to play for!) and finish 10-6.
First, since the Cardinals and 49ers are in the same division, a division tiebreaker is used. Due to a better division record, the 49ers eliminate the Cardinals for contention. So that pits the 49ers against us. And guess what? We win the tiebreak! We have the better conference record in this scenario.
Wild Card round
#6 Cowboys at #3 Eagles – That’s right!
#5 Saints at #4 Lions – Lions easily win that sad NFC South division
Scenario #2 – Saints win the division
Panthers: 12-4 or 11-5 (doesn’t matter)
The Saints either beat the Panthers once or twice. Either way, they win the division based on tiebreakers. The Panthers don’t lose to anybody else and the 49ers and Cardinals are in the same scenario as #1.
The Panthers grab the #5 seed. Everything else plays out exactly the same as Scenario #1. We grab the #6 seed.
Wild Card round
#6 Cowboys at #3 Eagles
#5 Panthers at #4 Lions
Scenario #3 – Same as #2, but Panthers finish 10-6
In this scenario, the Panthers lose twice to the Saints and drop a game against either the Jets or Falcons. The 49ers and the Cardinals stay the same (the 49ers have to lose 2 games for us to consider the wild card. This week against the Seahawks is an easy guess and the Cardinals are the next toughest opponent, so this seems like the most likely scenario for them to finish 10-6. The Cardinals are almost irrelevant because the 49ers eliminate them on tiebreakers. The only concern is if they run the table, which I highly, highly doubt).
We actually grab the #5 seed because we will have the better conference record then both the 49ers and Panthers. The Panthers grab the #6 seed because they already beat the 49ers this year.
Wild Card round
#5 Cowboys at #4 Detroit – Sweet revenge!
#6 Panthers at #3 Eagles
So there you have it. There are other scenarios, but these 3 scenarios seem like the most likely. The Eagles always finish 11-5, because otherwise we win the division. Detroit can’t finish better than the Eagles because they play this week, so they always have the #4 seed. We will either get revenge against the Eagles or Lions on wild card weekend. I wouldn’t mind that at all :)