The NFL playoff picture is crystal clear in the NFC heading into Week 13 with Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles on the bubble as a desperate long shot to secure a Wild Card berth.
If the playoffs were to begin to today at the start of Week 13, the San Francisco 49ers (10-1) and New Orleans Saints (9-2) would secure opening-round bye weeks in the NFC. The Green Bay Packers (8-3) and Dallas Cowboys (6-5) would host Wild Card games against the Minnesota Vikings (8-3) and Seattle Seahawks (9-2).
The NFC playoff picture includes five strong teams with the Dallas Cowboys’ spot in the NFC East the most vulnerable to lose to a divisional foe in the final stretch of the season. The Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) trail the Cowboys (6-5) by one game.
NFC DIVISION LEADERS:
#1 San Francisco 49ers (10-1)
#2 New Orleans Saints (9-2)
#3 Green Bay Packers (8-3)
#4 Dallas Cowboys (6-5)
NFC WILD CARD:
#5 Seattle Seahawks (9-2)
#6 Minnesota Vikings (8-3)
The NFC Wild Card is currently occupied by two stellar second-place teams. The Seattle Seahawks (8-3) won nine games, but they’re stuck behind the 10-1 Niners in the NFC West. The Minnesota Vikings (8-3) and Green Bay Packers (8-3) are in a two-dog fight for the NFC North title.
The NFC bubble teams (Eagles and Rams) are in deep trouble unless they can run the table and win the remaining five games to jump back into Wild Card contention.
Wild Card Place Holders: Seahawks and Vikings
The Seahawks (8-3) have a legit shot at catching the Niners for the NFC West title with a Week 17 matchup looming. The Niners won their first meeting of the season with a 27-24 victory in Week 11. Seattle has three more home games including the Vikings (8-3), Cardinals (3-7-1), and Niners (10-1). The Seahawks have yet to lose an away game. They could finish 8-0 on the road with two seemingly easy games against the LA Rams (6-5) in Week 15 and at the Carolina Panthers (5-6) in Week 16.
The Niners (10-1) survived the first test of a hellacious three-game stretch with a convincing win against the Packers. Jimmy G and the Niners have two more difficult games ahead of them facing Lamar’s Ravens this week and Drew Brees and the Saints in the Superdome in Week 14. The Niners are a perfect 5-0 on the road with three more away games at Baltimore (9-2), at New Orleans (9-2), and at Seattle (8-3) in Week 17.
The Vikings and Packers are fighting for the top spot in the NFC North. The winner secures a home game in the Wild Card round, while the loser will most likely secure a Wild Card spot with the second-place finisher of the NFC West. The Packers play only more game against a winning team during a Week 16 matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota.
The Vikings (8-3) are undefeated at home with a 5-0 record. The Vikes host three more games in Minnesota versus the Detroit Lions (3-7-1), Packers (9-2), and Chicago Bears (5-6). They have two more road games including at Seattle this week and at the LA Chargers in Week 15.
On the Bubble: Rams, Eagles, Bears, Panthers
The Dallas Cowboys (6-5) host the Buffalo Bills (8-3) on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys other two home games are against the LA Rams (6-5) and Washington Redskins (2-9). They hit the road twice to take on the Chicago Bears (5-6) and Philadelphia Eagles (5-6). A loss to the Eagles in Week 16 might seal Jason Garrett’s fate for good, especially if the Eagles secure the NFC East crown.
The Eagles have a soft schedule except for the huge Week 16 matchup against the Cowboys. The Eagles have two games remaining against the NY Giants (2-9), who lost seven in a row. Philly plays the Dolphins (2-9) in Miami this week and the Washington Redskins (2-9) in DC in Week 15.
NFC BUBBLE TEAMS:
LA Rams (6-5)
Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
Chicago Bears (5-6)
Carolina Panthers (5-6)
The Rams (6-5) lost their mojo after going to the Super Bowl last year. They’ve been in a tailspin after a 3-0 start losing five out of their last eight games. The Rams’ postseason chances were crushed when they lost a crucial game to the Baltimore Ravens. Lamar Jackson picked them apart during a shellacking on Monday Night Football. The Rams must win the rest of their games and hope that the Seahawks or Vikings collapse in December.
The Rams play the Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1) twice, which are their easiest remaining games. They also must face three potential playoff teams including Seattle, at San Francisco, and at Dallas. The Rams control their own destiny. If they can beat three playoff squads in a row, then they’ll put themselves in a spot to potentially backdoor a Wild Card berth.
Take a look at our AFC playoff picture update with four 6-5 teams fighting for a wild card spot.