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Assuming Washington beats Philly on Sunday, who would they meet in the playoffs?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC East title is not decided, with Washington, New York and Dallas all still in the hunt. Washington is the only one of the three teams that completely controls its own destiny. In effect, Week 17 is a playoff game for Washington; however you want to phrase it — “win and get in” or “win or go home” — there is now exactly one path to the playoffs for the Football Team. They must beat the Eagles on Sunday.

Players and coaches can’t look ahead, but fans can.

Let’s assume for a moment that Washington wins the game in Philly. Who will be next on the schedule?

How the seeding works

Seeds 1-4

The division winners are seeded 1 to 4 based on record, with the team with the best record earning the highest seed (#1).

For the purposes of this article, it’s not important to seed the top three teams, but the ones that have already clinched their divisions are the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, and Green Bay Packers.

Washington will be seeded 4th by virtue of being the division winner with the worst W-L record at 7-9.

Seeds 5-7

Under the 2020 playoff format, the NFC will have three wild card teams. They are the three non-division winners with the best overall records. In the case of a tie, then of course, tie-breakers are used to determine seedings. Tie breakers will be discussed below.

The playoffs have been expanded from 2 wild card teams per conference to 3 WC teams per conference this season. A significant result of this expansion is that only one team — the #1 seed — gets a first round bye.

The three wildcard teams are seeded 5 through 7, with the team with the best overall record (or winning tie breaker) seeded #5, and the team with the worst overall record (or losing tie breaker) of the three wild card qualifiers seeded #7.

For Washington, then, the first playoff game will come against the wildcard team seeded #5.

Current NFC wildcard contenders

With one game left to play, here are the non-division winners with the best records:

Since neither the Bears nor the Cardinals can match the Bucs record, they are of no interest in this article.

We need to look only at Tampa Bay and Los Angeles.

Remaining Schedules

This week,

  • Tampa Bay plays at home against the Atlanta Falcons at 1:00 pm EST
  • The Rams play at home against the Arizona Cardinals at 4:25 pm EST

If Tampa Bay wins, or if both teams lose, Washington will play Tampa Bay at FedEx Field in the Wildcard round the following weekend.

What happens if the Rams win and Tampa Bay loses, and they finish the season with identical 10-6 records?

TO BREAK A TIE FOR THE WILD-CARD TEAM

  1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  4. Strength of victory.
  5. Strength of schedule.
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.

In this case, the first tie breaker applies. The Bucs and the Rams played against each other in Week 11, with the Rams winning the game 27-24.

This means that LAR wins the tie breaker and gets the #5 seed.

RECAP

Looking past the Eagles game on Sunday Night Football and assuming the Football Team wins the NFC East championship

Tampa Bay will be the opponent if:

  • Tampa Bay wins this Sunday
  • Both TB and LA lose this Sunday

LA Rams will be the opponent if:

  • Tampa Bay loses and LA Rams win this Sunday

Poll

Assuming the WFT gets the win in Philly on Sunday, which wild card team would you rather host in the first playoff game?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    (960 votes)
  • 63%
    Los Angeles Rams
    (1664 votes)
2624 votes total Vote Now