BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
Here’s why the NFL switched the Green Bay-Detroit showdown to prime time: the loser could be staying home for the playoffs.
By the time the Packers and Lions, both 9-6, kick off for the NFC North crown at Ford Field, they will know how much of a must-win situation they are in. Or even a must-tie scenario.
If the Redskins (8-6-1) beat the Giants (10-5 and already owning a wild card), that means the loser in Motor City won’t make the postseason. Unless the Packers and Lions tie, in which case Green Bay wins the division and Detroit gets the second wild card for having defeated Washington.
The Packers could advance if the Redskins tie, Tampa Bay wins and Green Bay clinches at least a tie in a strength-of-victory tiebreaker over Tampa Bay. How can that happen?
Don’t ask. Just wait for Sunday’s results.
The Buccaneers (8-7) host Carolina in the season finale. They advance with a win and Washington tie and Green Bay loss, plus Tampa Bay clinches a strength-of-victory tiebreaker over Green Bay.
The only other thing at stake in the NFC is who gets the second seed behind Dallas (13-2). It goes to Atlanta (10-5) if it beats New Orleans, or if both NFC West winner Seattle and Detroit lose no matter what the Falcons do. Ties also fit in those scenarios, but do we really want to go there?
In the AFC, all six qualifiers are set. New England (13-2) has won the East and will clinch home-field advantage throughout if it beats Miami (10-5). The Dolphins are the sixth seed entering the weekend and will play at No. 3 Pittsburgh, the North winner, or South champion Houston in the wild-card round.
Should the Dolphins win, Oakland (12-3) can grab the top seed by winning at Denver. Such a victory also would hand the Raiders the West and make the Chiefs (11-4) a wild card.
If the Raiders lose and Kansas City wins at San Diego, then the Chiefs are the West winner and the second seed. That would drop Oakland to a wild card.
Pretty simple compared to the NFC.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)