MLB playoff picture: Every scenario for a wide-open NL bracket on the season's final day

Sunday marks the final day of Major League Baseball's regular season. While all the playoff entrants have been determined, and the bracket has been set in stone on the American League side, there remains some unfinished business as it pertains to the National League.

Because the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are tied atop the NL Central, and the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers are knotted in first in the NL West, only the Atlanta Braves know for sure they won't be playing on Monday or in Tuesday's Wild Card Game. Everyone else could conceivably play on either or both days.

However, the Braves are also tied with the Rockies and Dodgers, meaning home-field advantage in the NLDS is on the line for them on Sunday as well. Atlanta loses the tiebreaker to both teams, meaning the only way for them to earn the No. 2 seed is to win and see both NL West clubs lose on Sunday.

The American League bracket is all set. The Yankees will host the A's in the Wild Card Game, and the winner will face the Red Sox in one ALDS. The other ALDS will feature the No. 2 seed Astros against the No. 3 seed Indians.  

Let's recap the potential outcomes in the NL Central and NL West.

NL Central

Winner earns No. 1 seed, home-field throughout NL playoffs

If …

  • Cubs win and Brewers lose: Cubs win the division; Brewers host the Wild Card Game;
  • Brewers win and Cubs lose: Brewers win the division; Cubs host the Wild Card Game;
  • Both teams win or lose: Cubs host tiebreaker on Monday; loser hosts the Wild Card Game.

NL West

Winner earns No. 2 seed, unless both teams lose and Braves win Sunday

If...

  • Rockies win and Dodgers lose: Rockies win the division; Dodgers play in the Wild Card Game;
  • Dodgers win and Rockies lose: Dodgers win the division; Rockies play in the Wild Card Game;
  • Both teams win or lose: Dodgers host tiebreaker on Monday; loser plays in the Wild Card Game.

On paper, the Brewers and Dodgers would seem to have the advantage. They're both playing against bad teams, in the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants. But the Cubs and Rockies are each hosting teams with nothing to play for, in the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals, and one can never be certain what kind of lineup or effort level will be put forth on the final day of the season.

In other words, who knows.

Note that the Cubs and Dodgers secured home-field advantage in the tiebreaker games by virtue of winning the season series against the Brewers and Rockies. Also note that no matter what happens, the Braves will play the NL West champion, while the NL Central champion will host the NL Wild Card Game winner.

Once Sunday comes and goes, we may know what teams fit those descriptions. Or we may not -- and we may have baseball on Monday after all. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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