The NFC has at least nine teams that would be favored to reach the playoffs if any of them played in the AFC. They do not, so at least three pretty good teams will be eliminated over the next seven weeks.
Just like my AFC projections, I went through the remaining schedule to project the final records in the NFC. Here they are:
Philadelphia’s schedule isn’t easy down the stretch, and the chase for the byes among the division leaders is far from decided. This week’s key matchup between Minnesota and the Rams could be important in deciding who gets to host a game in the divisional round, and who has to go on the road.
In the wildcard slots, Seattle is currently holding down the 6th seed, and is projected slightly above several other contenders. But there’s not much margin for error for the Seahawks, who just lost Richard Sherman for the season. Seattle gets Atlanta this week, and also hosts the Rams and Eagles, while going on the road to Jacksonville and Dallas (late in the year, when Ezekiel Elliott will be back). That makes for five games against playoff contenders in the last seven weeks.
It’s not hyperbole to say this game against Atlanta is huge for the playoff hopes of the two teams. I’m projecting Seattle and Atlanta to have the same number of wins in all games between weeks 12-17. That means that Atlanta can surge past the Seahawks, and gain the tiebreaker, by winning on the road. Given the tough closing schedule, Seattle needs to win at home this week.
Green Bay is the wildcard here. These projections are based on Brett Hundley at QB. If they can get it to 7-6 over the next four weeks and Aaron Rodgers is healthy enough to return, they could be a wrench in these projections. Green Bay closes against Carolina, Minnesota, and Detroit, three contenders. They won’t have much of a chance without Rodgers but could catch some teams with him.