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NFL Playoff Scenarios Hinge On Giants And Packers

The part of the Week 17 NFL playoff picture we're watching closest involves the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams, but Sunday night's game for the NFC West title is more or less hermetically sealed—given the distinct lack of Wild Card implications and the low records of the competing teams the fallout isn't going to get anywhere outside our division no matter who wins. The same is true in the NFC South, where the Atlanta Falcons have more or less secured the top spot in their division, a bye week, and the momentary deference of the New Orleans Saints, who for their trouble have the pleasure of playing the NFC West champions. It's the NFC North and East where cross-divisional rivalries are still playing out—it's down to the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers for the last Wild Card spot and the right to complain about an 8-8 or 7-9 team making the playoffs. Lurking at the back of the playoff scenarios: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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While the games go on it's worth memorializing this moment in playoff picture history—the Packers need to beat the already-clinched Chicago Bears; the New York Giants need to beat the Washington Redskins; if both teams lose, the Buccaneers could sneak in by upsetting the Saints, who are halfway toward coasting with a Falcons loss against the Carolina Panthers the only thing standing between them and the Wild Card. Times like these make me realize how good the Rams have it—all they have to do is beat one team in one game, with nobody left on the scoreboard to watch.

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