For roughly three weeks it has looked obvious that the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions would meet in Week 17 with the NFC North title on the line. That still remains the same following Monday's 42-21 win for the Cowboys over the Lions -- but now Detroit's playoff hopes are hanging in absolute limbo. Dallas had nothing to play for Monday night, having already secured the NFC's top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Detroit, meanwhile, was desperate to lock up a spot in the playoffs.
The Cowboys snuffed the Lions out with a huge performance from Dak Prescott and surprising left-hander Dez Bryant -- who threw his first career pass for a touchdown -- and now the Lions have to be worried about making the postseason.
A Lions loss coupled with a Redskins win puts the Lions on the outside looking in. And they're getting the hottest quarterback in football in Aaron Rodgers. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is certain elimination. Good luck.
AFC: Who's in
1. (z) New England Patriots (13-2)
The Patriots are very close to securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs after taking the Jets to the woodshed. The Pats-Dolphins matchup in Week 17 suddenly has pretty large AFC implications with Oakland winning Saturday.
2. (x) Oakland Raiders (12-3)
3. (y) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)
The Steelers' thrilling win over the hated Ravens puts them back in the playoffs for a third straight season. However, they have no shot at grabbing a first-round bye in Week 17.
4. (y) Houston Texans (9-6)
Thanks to Tennessee losing and Houston winning over Cincy 12-10, the Texans clinched the AFC South. While the Titans could tie the Texans in the standings by beating them in Week 17, Houston would own the tiebreaker.
5. (x) Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
The Chiefs clinched a playoff berth before their Christmas night game against Denver by virtue of the Ravens losing, and they stayed alive in the AFC West race by taking care of the Broncos.
6. (x) Miami Dolphins (10-5)
Miami won in overtime over the Bills on Saturday, and then clinched a playoff spot once Baltimore and Denver lost Sunday. What a story for a team that was dead in the water to start the season.
Denver Broncos (8-7): The Broncos fall out of the playoff race with their loss to the Chiefs.
Baltimore Ravens (8-7): With the loss to the Steelers, the Ravens are also eliminated from the wild-card race.
Tennessee Titans (8-7): Tennessee gets eliminated with the Texans winning and locking up the AFC South.
Indianapolis Colts (7-8): With the Colts' loss to the Raiders, they are eliminated.
Buffalo Bills (7-8): The Bills losing to Miami in overtime snuffed out their long-shot chance of making the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1): The Bengals lost an ugly game to the Texans on Saturday night.
New York Jets (4-11): Humiliating effort against the Patriots on Saturday.
Cleveland Browns (1-14): That "1" looks pretty sweet.
NFC: Who's in
1. (*) Dallas Cowboys (13-2)
Dallas, having already clinched the NFC's No. 1 seed, handled the Lions at home on Monday night.
2. (y) Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
3. (y) Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1)
Seattle still needs help from the Falcons to secure a bye in the playoffs, but moves up to the No. 3 seed over Green Bay after Detroit's loss on Monday night.
4. Green Bay Packers (9-6)
The Packers are moving up quickly. Thanks to Detroit losing on Monday night, Green Bay takes control of the NFC North because of its head-to-head record against the Lions.
5. (x) New York Giants (10-5)
The Giants lost a horrible game to Philly on Thursday but got some big help Saturday and clinched a playoff berth thanks to the Bucs losing.
6. Detroit Lions (9-6)
Detroit lost in Week 16 to the Cowboys, failing to secure a playoff berth and setting up a showdown against the Packers in Week 17. Detroit can still get in as a wild card but losing doesn't guarantee anything -- the Lions are currently the No. 6 seed based on their head-to-head record against Green Bay.
In the hunt
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7): The Bucs' playoff chances took a serious blow with that loss to the Saints on Saturday. They need eight results to fall their way to make the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints (7-8): Eliminated before their game against Tampa kicked off.
Minnesota Vikings (7-8): Minnesota's loss means it cannot make the playoffs.
Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1): The Cardinals played spoiler against division rival Seattle on Saturday.
Carolina Panthers (6-9): Eliminated after losing to the Falcons on Saturday.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-9): But they beat the Giants so they have that going for them!
Chicago Bears (3-12): Matt Barkley's stock took a hit with five interceptions Saturday.
San Francisco 49ers (2-13): Briefly had the inside track for the draft's top pick before winning.
Legend: (x) - clinched playoff berth; (y) - denotes division winner; (z) - denotes first-round bye; ( * ) - clinched home-field advantage