There are 12 teams in the NFC that are vying for the seven postseason positions, and similar to the AFC race this one seems as though it will come down to the wire. While the winners of each division may be a bit more clear in the NFC, the Wild Card spots remain a mystery as the season continues to unfold. Here is a quick break down of each NFC team in the playoff hunt, as well as my predictions as to who will ultimately fill out the NFC Postseason Bracket.
to read about the AFC Playoff Picture!
Dallas Cowboys (8-4, 1st Place, Current #4 Seed)
The Cowboys have seen varying amounts of success this season, but ultimately remain one of the best teams in the NFL thanks to their explosive offense. While neither Dak Prescott nor Ezekiel Elliot are having MVP caliber seasons, the pair remain a nightmare duo for defenses to deal with, and have led the 4th highest-scoring offense in all of football to a great 8-4 record. Where the Cowboys lack the most talent is within their defense, which is currently the fourth-worst passing defense in the entire NFL. If the Cowboys want to remain the #4 seed and atop the NFC East, they’ll have to win some key games in the coming weeks, seeing as they’ll be playing 4 divisional rivals and the 10-2 Cardinals.
Remaining Schedule: @WFT, @ Giants, vs WFT, vs Cardinals, @ Eagles
The Washington Football Team (6-6. 2nd Place, Current #6 Seed)
The Washington Football Team have seen an incredible stretch of success recently, winning four of their last 5 games after a 2-5 start. Their defense has been very strong recently (specifically against the run) and their offense has been following suit by scoring an average of 22 points over their last four games. With only divisional games remaining on their schedule, the Washington Football Team can really shake up the landscape of this NFC East division, and can even find themselves sitting atop it if they play their cards right.
Remaining Schedule: vs Cowboys, @ Eagles, @ Cowboys, vs Eagles, @ Giants
The Philadelphia Eagles (6-7, 3rd Place)
Similar to Washington, the Eagles’ only remaining games are against divisional rivals, which could cause even more chaos in an already chaotic postseason race. Add on the fact that the Eagles now have a quarterback controversy
on their hands, and things become even more nerve-wracking for the birds. The Eagles have yet to have an impressive win all year, but late-season victories against the Football Team and the Cowboys could spring the Eagles into one of the final Wild Card Positions.
Remaining Schedule: BYE, vs WFT, vs GIants, @ WFT, vs Cowboys
Green Bay Packers (9-3, 1st Place, Current #2 Seed)
may just be the next piece of evidence in the “Age is just a number” lawsuit spearheaded by Tom Brady, as Rodgers has been absolutely balling out this season. While his total yardage numbers are down, Rodgers has thrown 23 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions, and has one of the highest passer ratings in the entire league. The Packers defense also seems to step it up in do-or-die situations, making them one of the scariest teams to face as the season goes on. Their remaining schedule really only has two challenges, so they should soar into the playoffs with ease.
Remaining Schedule: vs Bears, @ Ravens, vs Browns, vs Vikings, @ Lions
Minnesota Vikings (5-7, 2nd Place)
The Vikings were in a much better spot two weeks ago, before they had dropped games to the 49ers and to the winless Lions. However, they still find themselves on the edge of the hunt coming into the last 5 weeks of the NFL season. Most of the Vikings success has come at the hands of Kirk Cousins, who’s accrued over 3300 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions. When Runningback Dalvin Cook is healthy, this team operates as a dual-threat, but keeping Cook on the field has appeared more challenging than expected
. If they want to make a late-season playoff push, the Vikings will have to dominate these last five weeks, which is easier said than done.
Remaining Schedule: vs Steelers, @ Bears, vs Rams, @ Packers, vs Bears
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3, 1st Place, Current #3 Seed)
Surprise surprise, Tom Brady finds himself atop the division and in the perfect position to make a playoff run. Brady has been absolutely unstoppable this season
, leading the league in both passing yards and touchdowns while maintaining one of the highest completion percentages in the NFL. The Buccs are currently the favorite to win the Superbowl across the entire NFL, and could very easily finish atop the entire NFC thanks to their easy remaining schedule.
Remaining Schedule: vs Bills, vs Saints, @ Panthers, @ Jets, vs Panthers
Carolina Panthers (5-7, 2nd Place)
If you put a gun to my head and told me to name the Panthers starting quarterback, I don’t think I’d be able to answer–to be fair I don’t think Head Coach Matt Rhule would be able to answer either, seeing as how they’ve started 3 different quarterbacks in their last 4 weeks. The Panthers are going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment, with star runningback Christian McCaffrey struggling and the quarterback situation looking like it went through a woodchipper. The Panthers also close out their season with a game against the Bills and two against the Buccs, so they’ll have to figure things out rather quickly if they want to make a push towards one of these wildcard positions.
Remaining Schedule: vs Falcons, @ Bills, vs Buccaneers, @ Saints, @ Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons (5-7, 3rd Place)
The Falcons are holding on by a thread, losing three of their last five and being held under 7 points in two of their last fourl. Matt Ryan has been showing a bit of his age this season, throwing only 16 touchdowns with 11 interceptions while accruing a passer rating of just 89.1. The Falcons will be gifted with a bit of an easy remaining schedule, but due to their inconsistent play on both sides of the ball it’ll be hard to lock any of these games in as wins.
Remaining Schedule: @Panthers, @49ers, vs Lions, @Bills, vs Saints
New Orleans Saints (5-7, 4th Place)
We’re coming into week 14, and it looks like the Saints have finally found their quarterback. Taysom Hill balled out last week, recording over 200 yards in the air while simultaneously rushing for over 100 yards in what eventually was a losing effort by the saints. New Orleans has been plagued by injuries all sesaon, but a generous last five weeks (with three divisional games) could prove helpful to a team on the fringe.
Remaining Schedule: @ Jets, @ Buccaneers, vs Dolphins, vs Panthers, @ Falcons
Arizona Cardinals (10-2, 1st Place, current #1 Seed)
The Cardinals have been outstanding so far this season, with their only two losses coming from the Packers and the Panthers, which were games where starting Quarterback Kyler Murray was playing with an injury or sitting due to an injury. The Cardinals have one of the strongest secondaries in the NFL, and have allowed only 8 rushing touchdowns all season. The Cardinals continue to be one of the strongest teams in the NFL, and currently sit as the hird highest favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Remaining Games: vs Rams, @ Lions, vs Colts, @ Cowboys, vs Seahawks
Los Angeles Rams (8-4, 2nd Place, current #5 seed)
Coming into their week 13 smattering of the Jaguars, the Rams were on a three-game losing skid that seemed to display some holes in their once-perceived flawless game. The most glaring of these problems seem to be on the defensive side of the ball, where the Rams seemed almost helpless against the passing game. When looking at the season as a whole, the Rams secondary has actually been one of the best in the league, so hopefully this skid of bad play was just a fluke. However, the Rams will be seeing some tough opponents in these final weeks that may prove to be a challenge.
Remaining Games: @ Cardinals, vs Seahawks, @ Vikings, @ Ravens, vs 49ers.
San Fransisco 49ers (6-6, 3rd Place, current #7 seed)
The Niners had a real chance to separate themselves from the rest of the Wild Card teams this weekend with a win over the Seahawks, but a missed touchdown opportunity late in the fourth quarter by the Niners appeared crucial, with San Fransisco eventually losing 30-23. Despite the loss, the Niners remaining the seventh seed by half a game, and have to really buckle down their defensive play if they want to keep it that way.
Remaining Games: @Bengals, vs Falcons, @ Titans, vs Texans, @ Rams.
NFC PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Now that we’ve taken a look at the hunt, here’s how I see the NFC playoff bracket filling out.
#1 Seed: Arizona Cardinals (Predicted Record: 14-3)
If Kyler Murray remains healthy, I see the Cardinals taking the #1 seed in the NFC fairly easily, winning four of their last five games. Before his injury, Murray was having possibly the best season of his career, and after sitting for three weeks its only a matter of time until Murray returns to his mid-season form.
#2 Seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Predicted Record: 13-4)
I have Tom Brady and the Bucc’s falling just short of the #1 seed, with a loss coming either in their week 14 game against the Bills or their Week 18 game against the Panthers. Regardless, it shouldn’t be hard for the Buccs to lock down the South, so a playoff spot is almost a given for Tampa Bay.
#3 Seed: Green Bay Packers (Predicted Record: 13-4)
If I’m being honest, the NFC is incredibly top-heavy, thus making the top seeding difficult to predict. The Packers and the Buccaneers are fairly interchangeable, all depending on which team ends the season with a better divisional record. The Packers have a few key games in their final weeks, but shouldn’t have a problem finishing atop the North thanks to the lead they’ve built throughout the season.
#4 Seed: Dallas Cowboys (Predicted Record: 10-7)
In what could be an all-time Cowboys collapse, I have Dallas just edging out the Football Team and the Eagles in what will end up being an incredibly close divisional battle. As I stated earlier, all the NFC East teams play each other a number of times in the closing week, allowing for a lot of movement in the division standings. Ultimately the Cowboys will clinch the division win, but the Football Team and the Eagles are close behind.
#5 Seed: Los Angeles Rams (Predicted Record:11-6)
The Rams have a bit of a tough closing schedule, which could lead to a few losses to teams like the Ravens or the Cardinals. However, they should be able to make quick work of the Seahawks, Vikings, and Niners, thus cementing them as the first wild card team. I can see the Rams making a run in the playoffs as well, especially if they play the Cowboys in the first round.
# 6 Seed: The Washington Football Team (Predicted Record: 9-8)
Washington is getting hot at exactly the right time and has 5 divisional matchups in their next five games which allows them to control their own destiny. Washington is an incredibly gritty team, and can prove to be a tough post-season matchup for any opponent.
#7 Seed: The Philadelphia Eagles (Predicted Record: 9-8)
The Eagles ending the season 3-1 is a bit of a long shot, but all they have to do is win out their home games and they’ve got themselves a spot. They’ll also need the Niners to hit a bit of trouble in the last five weeks, which is entirely possible considering they’ll be taking on the Bengals, Rams, and Titans all on the road.
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