It all comes down to this.
Many playoff berths have been clinched, but seeding has yet to be determined in what continues to be a wild 2010 season. Nine of the 12 total spots are named, but both conferences have some divisional titles that are still in play coming into week 17. It appears that making all week 17 games division matchups was smart, indeed.
The Bears have their divisional title, but against all odds, are still in play for the #1 seed in the NFC. They'll need some help to get there, but hey, stranger things have happened. You'll recall 2008 when everything fell into place for the Bears to get their wild card slot--except for the part where the Bears win.
Let's take a look at the standings as of right now:
As you can see, we've got all the spots, but when you really get into it, here's what's going on.
The Patriots are the lock at #1.
The Chiefs clinched their division.
The Colts are in with either a win, or a Jacksonville loss. Otherwise, if Indy loses and Jax wins, Jax will make it in.
The Jets will stay the sixth seed no matter what happens with regards to the Steelers and Ravens situation.
This is where things begin to be a little more tricky. The Falcons have the #1 spot, but the Bears can take it with the following conditions:
Not likely, but possible. The other possibility is that the Saints could get the #1 spot with a win and a Falcons loss, as they would hold a conference record tiebreaker against the Bears.
The Bears are otherwise assured the #2 seed, should they not get the magic confluence of events mentioned above.
The Eagles are locked into the #3 spot, as assured by the loss against Green Bay that the Giants took in Week 16.
The winner of Rams-Seahawks wins the #4 spot, so it will be either St. Louis at 8-8, or Seattle at 7-9.
The Saints currently sit in the #5 spot, and given that the Falcons are overwhelming favorites against the Panthers, will likely stay there, regardless of what they do.
And then there's the #6 spot. It's currently the Packers' spot to lose.. There are currently 3 teams with aspirations for that slot, the Packers, the Giants, and the Buccaneers.
#6 spot situations
For the Packers to make it:
-win vs. Bears
-Giants loss AND Buccaneers loss
For the Giants to make it:
-win vs. Redskins
For the Buccaneers to make it:
-win vs. Saints
As you can see, the Buccaneers have the longest shot, as they have to count on two losses and a victory against one of the best teams in the conference. You can be assured that Giants fans will be watching the scoreboard very closely during their game with the Redskins. If the Bucs can win early on Sunday, there'll be an organization that is the world's biggest Bears and Redskins fans, if only for one day.
This is the kind of football you want to see. Meaningful games, late in season, a reason for people to get out and play. It's just too bad that they still have to technically play the Cardinals/49ers game...who wants to watch that?