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So, How Does the NFC Playoff Picture Look Now?

I'm glad you asked!

Here's the latest playoff race charts.  Standings courtesy of CBS Sportsline's "Playoff Race" page.

Team W-L Conf W-L Div W-L Tiebreakers NFC Games Left AFC Games Left
NYG (5) 8-4 6-4 2-2 DET, CHI @ PHI, @ WAS @ BUF, NE
ARZ (6) 6-6 3-5 2-2 DET @ SEA, @ NO, ATL, STL None
DET 6-6 4-6 3-2 CHI DAL, @ GB @ SD, KC
MIN 6-6 4-5 2-3 NYG CHI, WAS, @ SF @ DEN
CAR 5-7 5-4 2-3 None SEA, DAL, @ TB @ JAC
NO 5-7 4-4 2-3 None @ ATL, ARZ, PHI, @ CHI None
WAS 5-7 3-5 1-3 DET, ARZ CHI, @ NYG, @ MIN, DAL None
CHI 5-7 2-6 1-3 PHI @ WAS, @ MIN, GB, NO None
PHI 5-7 3-6 1-3 DET, MIN NYG, @ DAL, @ NO BUF

Yes, if the season ended today, the Beloved Purple would STILL be on the outside of the NFL's post-season looking in.  The reason?  Well, in a 3-way tiebreaker between us, the Cardinals, and the Lions, the Lions currently sit ahead of us based on a superior division record, as you can see above.  However, once the tie between us and Detroit is broken, Arizona's head-to-head victory over Detroit a few weeks back gives them the advantage there.  So right now, the Vikings occupy the #4 position in what's turned into a 9-team race. . .although the Giants helped distance themselves a little bit with their victory over Chicago yesterday.

We have a new entry into the 5-7 mix from last week, as the Carolina Panthers have springboarded from out of the playoff picture to just behind the Vikings in the mix.  Tampa Bay has basically sewn up the NFC South already, so the Panthers are fighting for a wild-card spot just like the Vikings are.  I'm sure the Panthers won't mind going on the road for the playoffs if they get in. . .yesterday they won their first home game in more than one calendar year when they knocked off San Francisco. . .who the Vikings just happen to be matched up against next week.  The advantage that Carolina has at this point is that even though they're 5-7, they have a winning record against the NFC.

As far as New Orleans goes. . .well, if they miss out on the playoffs by one game, they're going to wonder why in the hell they were running reverses at midfield with under four minutes left to play.  Hell, they ought to be wondering that anyway.

Washington is still hard to handicap at this point, but it's going to be interesting to see how they react to the quick turnaround, as on Thursday night they'll play host to. . .

The Chicago Bears, whose undoing is going to be their abysmal record against the NFC.  Chicago has to run the table just to get to .500 within the conference, the fact that they could easily end up 1-5 against the division not withstanding.

I won't handicap Detroit either, because if their performance yesterday and their upcoming schedule are any indication, you can pretty much stick a fork in the Lions.  Oh, and Roy Williams is going to miss the rest of their season, too.  Yeah, I'm not all that concerned about any potential tie-breaker scenarios that involve the Lions.

As far as Philly is concerned?  Well, they've got a quarterback problem.  McNabb is hurt, and apparently the majority of Philadelphia hates him anyway.  The problem with that is the fact that A.J. Feeley is. . .well, he's A.J. Feeley.  I'm starting to wonder if the Eagles wouldn't be better off putting 2nd round pick Kevin Kolb out there for the last few games of the year.  They have a lot of ground to make up, and I'm not sure if they can do it, so why not give the kid a shot?

The most important thing is that the Vikings pretty much control their own destiny.  The two "easiest" remaining schedules in the NFL, if I remember correctly. . .and keep in mind, in the NFL "easy" doesn't always mean "easy". . .currently belong to Arizona and Minnesota.  If they can continue winning, one of those two wild-card spots is theirs for the taking.  It's going to be an interesting last four weeks of the regular season, folks. . .hopefully the marked improvement we've seen from the Beloved Purple the past few weeks continues so that we can get ourselves a date with either Seattle or Tampa Bay that first weekend in January.

Keep enjoying your Monday, everyone!