With nine games on the Week 17 schedule having significant playoff implications, over 50 scenarios exist for what next Sunday’s slate of four games will look like. Though the six playoff teams in the AFC are set, with seeding and byes being the stakes for those teams today.

Since everyone already clinched their respective divisions in the AFC, that makes it all the cleaner. Houston, Denver and New England are all fighting for a first-round bye. Houston is playing at division rival Indianapolis. New England is playing at home against their divisional opponent Miami Dolphins. The Denver Broncos have a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs, who are locked in to get one of the first two draft picks.

The NFC picture is far less clear. Depending on the outcomes of six NFC-related contests today, two teams will earn a berth to play during the Wild Card round, and three teams will have their hopes burst like a pinata.

NFC Teams

The Atlanta Falcons have the easiest of weekends, as their game matters not. They have already secured one of the two first-round byes, with a record consisting of 13 wins – a sum unobtainable by Green Bay, San Francisco or Seattle – the other teams with the potential for a first-round bye.

Green Bay Packers fans would surely love to play a part in denying the Vikings entry into the playoffs, but they aren’t the sole decider in whether or not Adrian Peterson plays next week. The Packers can determine whether or not THEY play next week, as a win would carry them into the second spot for a first-round bye – neither NFC West team can amass more than 11 wins. In roughly 25% of the scenarios, Green Bay could play host to a game during the Wild Card round, with the Vikings being their only potential opponent. A win by the Vikings this week eliminates the Bears and Giants and destroys the chances for the Redskins to gain a spot in the playoffs aside from being a division winner.

The San Francisco 49ers can’t ensure themselves a first-round bye with an all but guaranteed victory over the woeful Cardinals today, but they can win the NFC West and ensure that their first playoff game is at home.  In 87.5% of the scenarios, the 49ers are playing next week. In 62.5% of the scenarios, they get to play in San Francisco, with the potential visiting teams consisting of either the Bears, Giants, Redskins or Vikings. In the other 25% of the scenarios were the games are on the road, there are only two possible destinations for their trip, and it’s twice as likely to be visiting the Redskins. For those left scratching their heads, the result of the Giants game doesn’t matter in certain scenarios, which is why there are fewer scenarios for Dallas hosting San Francisco.

The Pacific Northwest will have a team in the playoffs, and in 12.5% of the scenarios the Seahawks won’t even have to play next week. All Seattle has to do is beat the Rams (in Seattle) and have the 49ers lose… to the Cardinals… in San Francisco…  Right. Which is why the other 87.5% of the scenarios are more likely. Sadly enough for Seahawks fans, there’s only 12.5% of the overall scenarios in which they’ll be playing in Seattle during Wild Card weekend, with the same opponents break-down as previously mentioned for the 49ers (see what’s in red above).

The Sunday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys will determine who wins the NFC East, giving that team a home game the following week against the team which fails to win the NFC West. Luckily for the fans in our Nation’s Capital, the Redskins also have 8.333% of the scenarios whereby they’ll visit the winner of the NFC West as the Wild Card team next week. Why might they not visit Green Bay? Because if the Packers fail to earn a bye, it’s because the Vikings will have beaten them this week, taking away the Redskins’ odds of being a Wild Card team. Odds which Dallas does not have.

The defending Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants, have no chance of winning the NFC East, and in only 8.3333 % of the scenarios are they even playing next week – in both scenarios, they’re visiting the winner of the NFC West… but only if the Packers win this week.

Now if we’re talking odds, that’s a totally different story… and with all of this mess, I’m not even going to get into that.

If you came to this article, saw all of that write-up and decided it was TOO LONG and you DIDN’T READ it, here’s the summary:

Atlanta Falcons? They’re getting a bye no matter what.

Green Bay Packers

  • Bye with a win over the Vikings in Minnesota
  • Bye with a San Francisco loss
  • Potentially host the Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

  • Bye with a win And a Green Bay loss
  • Potentially host the Vikings (31.25), Bears (18.75), Giants (6.25) or Redskins (6.25)
  • Potentially visit the NFC East Winner (Cowboys – 8.33;  Redskins 16.667)

Seattle Seahawks

  • Bye with a win and 49ers loss AND Packers loss
  • Potentially host the Bears (6.25), Giants / Redskins / Vikings (2.08333 each)
  • Potentially visit the NFC East winner (Cowboys – 25, Redskins 50)

Washington Redskins

  • Host the 49ers (16.66667) or the Seahawks (50)
  • Visit the 49ers (6.25) or Seahawks (2.0833)

Dallas Cowboys

  • Host the 49ers (8.3333)
  • Host the Seahawks (25)
  • New York Giants
  • Visit the 49ers (6.25)
  • Visit the Seahawks (2.08333)

Minnesota Vikings

  • Visit the 49ers (31.25)
  • Visit the Packers (25)
  • Seahawks (2.08333)

Chicago Bears

  • Visit the 49ers (18.75)
  • Visit the Seahawks (6.25)

I’m also not considering the fact that anyone gets a tie this week.

Voice your picks!