The NFC now has a division leader with a losing record and seven other teams with 7 or more wins for five spots. Washington probably saw its chances disappear with the loss to Minnesota at home, as the Redskins would basically have to win out. Let’s break down each of the teams still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the NFC.
Right now, the NFC playoff seeds would be:
- Atlanta Falcons. 9-2 overall, 6-1 conference record; key wins over NO, TB, GB; key loss to PHI.
- Chicago Bears. 8-3 overall, 6-3 conference record; key wins over GB, PHI; key loss to NYG.
- Philadelphia Eagles. 7-4 overall, 5-3 conference record; key wins over NYG, ATL; key losses to GB, CHI.
- St. Louis Rams. 5-6 overall, 3-5 conference record; key wins over SEA; key losses to SF, ARI.
- New Orleans Saints. 8-3 overall, 7-2 conference record; key win over TB; key loss to ATL.
- New York Giants. 7-4 overall, 5-2 conference record; key wins over CHI; key losses to PHI, DAL.
Tampa Bay (7-4; 5-2 conference record) and Green Bay (7-4; 5-3 conference record) are both on the outside right now, though that can certainly change with key victories. Everyone in the NFC West is still alive because, well, they are not good.
In the NFC West, it will likely come down to the final week between St. Louis and Seattle. The Rams currently have the tiebreaker, but that will ultimately be decided by the second matchup. A Rams win would clinch any tiebreaker (so they just have to stay within a game of Seattle), but a loss would give the tiebreaker to Seattle, who swept Arizona while the Rams already have a loss to the Cardinals. The San Francisco 49ers still have a shot as well, because victories over the other two, and a sweep over Arizona that must begin tonight, would give them all the tiebreakers. Arizona is in trouble, both because they are horrible, and they would already be in tiebreaker trouble after being swept by Seattle. I give the slight edge to the Rams in this crapfest.
The winner of the NFC South is very likely to be the #1 seed after the results this weekend. Atlanta is now two games clear of Philadelphia, and New Orleans is the most likely team to track them down. The Falcons are up two games on the Bears in the conference loss column. The Saints and Falcons play in Atlanta in week 16, in a game that should decide the division and the #1 seed. Atlanta has the head-to-head win, but New Orleans would likely gain the tiebreaker if they win on the road in the rematch. Tampa Bay must win the game this week against Atlanta (or the finale against New Orleans) to bolster their chances.
The Giants loss to Dallas at home could mean trouble even if they can split with Philadelphia, though that rematch will go a long way toward deciding the NFC East. If the Packers can stay within a game of Chicago, they may still have a chance to win the division, pending either of them being upset by Detroit on the road, or in Chicago’s case, Minnesota.
Atlanta is a virtual lock for the playoffs after the big win against Green Bay. They still have two games left against Carolina. New Orleans would join them if they can win this week at Cincinnati, because of their superior conference record. The rest of the teams are completely up in the air, as Tampa Bay, Chicago, Green Bay, Philadelphia and New York are likely competing for three spots. The key game is probably going to be New York at Green Bay in week 16, as the winner will be in good position to still win the division and potentially get a bye, while the loser could be in trouble. Here are the remaining schedules for the seven NFC teams that are 7-4 or better:
Atlanta: at TB, at CAR, at SEA, NO, CAR
New Orleans: at CIN, STL, at BAL, at ATL, TB
Tampa Bay: at ATL, at WAS, DET, SEA, at NO
Chicago: at DET, NE, at MIN, NYJ, at GB
Green Bay: SF, at DET, at NE, NYG, CHI
Philadelphia: HOU, at DAL, at NYG, MIN, DAL
NY Giants: WAS, at MIN, PHI, at GB, at WAS
[photo via Getty]