Weekend provides playoff positioning

The AFC playoff picture is a still unclear, but the NFC could have three division titles and a wild card playoff entrant decided after this weekend. Here are this weekend's playoff possibilities.

With three weeks to go in the regular season, the Vikings are all but assured of finishing with the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. With a win over Carolina Sunday night, the Vikings would wrap up both the NFC North title. If they can combine a win with a Philadelphia loss, they would also clinch a first-round playoff bye. There are a lot of scenarios still to be played out, but here is a quick overview of where everything stands.


Indianapolis – Has clinched the AFC South and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

San Diego – Can clinch the AFC West title with a win and a Denver tie or if Denver loses to Oakland. If both teams win, San Diego will still clinch at least a playoff berth with a victory over Cincinnati.

Cincinnati – The Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a win Sunday at San Diego or a loss by Baltimore against Chicago.

AFC East – Regardless of who wins or loses, none of the three teams in the division title chase – New England, New York and Miami – can clinch a postseason berth this weekend.


New Orleans – The Saints have clinched the NFC South title and a first-round bye. They can clinch homefield throughout the NFC playoffs with a win and a loss or tie by the Vikings.

Minnesota – With their win last Sunday, the Vikings clinched a playoff berth. They can close out the division title with a win or a Green Bay loss. They can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a loss or tie by Philadelphia.

Arizona – The Cardinals can clinch the NFC West with a win against Detroit or a San Francisco loss at Philadelphia.

Philadelphia – The Eagles can clinch at least a playoff spot with a win over San Francisco and a loss or tie by the Giants. Nobody can clinch the division title in the NFC East this week.

Green Bay – The Packers can clinch a wild card berth with a win at Pittsburgh and a Dallas loss to New Orleans or a win by the Packers and a loss by the Giants against Washington.

It is conceivable that in the NFC, three of the four divisions will be decided and one of the wild cards will be awarded with two weeks still to play – truly a rarity in the NFL.


  • The four-game suspension of Erin Henderson will come with a heavy price. Because the Vikings are already assured of making the playoffs, Henderson will not only miss the final three games of the regular season, but he will miss the Vikings' first playoff game as well.

  • It is looking unlikely that Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme will play Sunday. He has missed the last two games with a broken finger on his throwing hand. If, as expected, he can't go, backup Matt Moore will get his third straight start.

  • The Panthers will also be without right tackle Jeff Otah, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after suffering a season-ending knee injury Sunday against the Patriots. Both he and starting left tackle Jordan Gross (leg) are now on injured reserve, which can only make Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and Brian Robison anticipate the matchups.

  • As depleted as the Lions are offensively already, things got worse Tuesday, as the team placed running back Kevin Smith (knee) on injured reserve.

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