NFL playoffs: who needs what to clinch

Posted Dec. 27, 2010, at 1:40 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 27, 2010, at 5:46 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — Three division titles remain undecided heading into the final week of the NFL season: the AFC South, NFC South and NFC West.

Indianapolis wins the AFC South by beating visiting Tennessee on Sunday, or if Jacksonville loses at Houston. Atlanta needed a victory Monday night at home against New Orleans or next Sunday, also at home against Carolina, to take the NFC South. The winner of Sunday’s game in Seattle between the Rams and Seahawks wins the NFC West.

While the AFC wild cards belong to the Jets and either the Ravens or Steelers — whichever doesn’t take the AFC North — five teams have shots at NFC wild cards: Atlanta, New Orleans, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants.

So the AFC is not very complicated, with New England the East winner, Kansas City champion of the West, and either Baltimore or Pittsburgh taking the North. The Steelers hold the tiebreaker over the Ravens and are at Cleveland on Sunday. Baltimore hosts Cincinnati.

The Chiefs and the AFC South winner will host a wild-card round playoff game.

Things are more unsettled in the NFC, where Chicago (North) and Philadelphia (East) own division titles. Seattle (6-9) could become the first division winner in NFL history with a losing record if it beats St. Louis (7-8) in their finale, which has been flexed to a Sunday night game.

Should New Orleans win at Atlanta and then beat visiting Tampa Bay, it would take the South and the Falcons would be a wild card.

But the defending Super Bowl champion Saints could fall right out of the picture by losing twice. They would then need either the Packers or Giants to lose their finale: Green Bay hosts archrival Chicago, while New York is at Washington.

The Packers (9-6) have the inside track for a wild card — win and they are in. The Giants and Bucs must win Sunday to have a shot at a wild card.

No first-round byes have been clinched in the NFC, either. Atlanta gets one with a win Monday night.

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