VIKINGS PLAYOFF SCENARIO
• The Vikings can clinch a playoff spot with a victory; a Seattle victory; an Atlanta loss; or with a tie by any of the three teams.
• The Vikings can win the NFC North with two victories. If Green Bay loses at Arizona on Sunday, it doesn’t matter what the Vikings do against the Giants for their NFC North hopes.
WHY THE VIKINGS LOSE A THREE-WAY TIE
• The Seahawks and Vikings are 9-5; the Falcons (7-7) are the only other team that figures in the wild-card picture. If the three all end up 9-7, Atlanta and Seattle will earn the wild-card bids.
• In the NFL’s three-team tiebreaker, the first tiebreaker applies to teams within the same division. The second is a head-to-head sweep, which is not applicable. The third is won-loss percentage in the conference; all three teams would finish 6-6. The fourth is won-lost percentage in common games, minimum of four, and there are not enough common games. The fifth tiebreaker is strength of victory — the combined victories of your opponents. Atlanta (which plays unbeaten Carolina twice) would win that tiebreaker and get the fifth seed.
• That would leave Seattle and Vikings vying for the sixth seed, and in a two-team tie, head-to-head is the first criteria. Seattle beat the Vikings, and would get the No. 6 seed.
WEEK 16 PLAYOFF SCENARIOS (assuming no ties)
East: Washington (8-7) clinched the East and the NFC’s No. 4 seed by winning at Philadelphia 38-24 on Saturday night.
South: Carolina (14-0) has clinched the South and a first-round bye. It can clinch home field through the playoffs with a victory at Atlanta or a loss by Arizona.
North: Green Bay (10-4) has clinched a playoff berth. It can clinch the North with a victory at Arizona and a loss by the Vikings.
West: Arizona (12-2) has clinched the West and can earn a first-round bye by beating the Packers.
Wild card: Seattle (9-5) has clinched a wild-card berth.
East: New England (12-2) has clinched the division and a first-round bye. The Patriots can clinch home-field advantage through the playoffs with a road victory over the New York Jets.
South: Houston (7-7) can clinch with a victory at Tennessee and a loss by Indianapolis (6-8). The Texans also could clinch by winning and having other games fall so that they would have a strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Colts.
North: Cincinnati (11-3) has clinched a playoff berth. The Bengals can clinch the North with a victory at Denver or a Pittsburgh loss, and they can clinch a first-round bye with a victory.
West: Denver (10-4) can clinch the West with a victory and a Kansas City loss. The Broncos can clinch a playoff spot with a victory and a losses by either the Jets or Pittsburgh.
Wild cards: Kansas City (9-5) can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Cleveland and a loss by either the Jets or Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh (9-5) can clinch a playoff spot with a victory at Baltimore and a loss by the Jets. The Jets (9-5) would lose tiebreakers to Kansas City and Pittsburgh.
Carolina at Atlanta, noon
Cleveland at Kansas City, noon
Houston at Tennessee, noon
Indianapolis at Miami, noon
New England at N.Y. Jets, noon
Pittsburgh at Baltimore, noon
Green Bay at Arizona, 3:25 p.m.
St. Louis at Seattle, 3:25 p.m.
N.Y. Giants at Vikings, 7:30 p.m.
Cincinnati at Denver, Monday