We've come to the twelfth game of the season for every NFL team, and usually by this time of the year the playoff picture has started to solidify itself. This year, however, that's not the case, as there are still plenty of teams alive in the NFC. . .yes, technically even the Vikings. . .fighting for playoff spots.
In the NFC, there are seven teams with records of 7-4 or better (the Philadelphia Eagles are at 8-4 with their victory on Thursday night over the Houston Texans). Those seven teams. . .the Eagles, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. . .are fighting for five playoff spots. Why? Because the NFC West champion is going to get the sixth playoff spot. You know, the NFC West? The division that, as of the time I'm sitting here typing this up, doesn't have a single team with a record of .500 or better?
We'll get to the preview of the Vikings/Bills game in the Game Thread, like we always do. . .if, for some reason, you're inclined to turn your eyes away from the Vikings this afternoon, here's what the rest of the slate looks like. It's pretty easy to see which games in both leagues have playoff implications and which ones don't.
Noon Central kickoffs
New Orleans Saints (8-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-9)
Chicago Bears (8-3) at Detroit Lions (2-9)
San Francisco 49ers (4-7) at Green Bay Packers (7-4)
Denver Broncos (3-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
Cleveland Browns (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (6-5)
Washington Redskins (5-6) at New York Giants (7-4)
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-6)
3:15 PM Central kickoffs
Oakland Raiders (5-6) at San Diego Chargers (6-5)
St. Louis Rams (5-6) at Arizona Cardinals (3-8)
Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
Carolina Panthers (1-10) at Seattle Seahawks (5-6)
Atlanta Falcons (9-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
The Sunday night game will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) heading to Baltimore to battle it out with the Ravens (8-3). Then, on Monday night, we get the game that's been talked about all week, as the New York Jets (9-2) head into Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots (9-2). In that one, Tom Brady will be looking to break Brett Favre's NFL record by winning his 25th consecutive home game.
So there's your schedule, and there are a lot of games that will impact the post-season picture taking place today. . .even Minnesota's game with the Bills. After all, Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune informs us that three teams have recovered from a 4-7 record to make the NFL playoffs. . .the 1995 Chargers (finished 9-7 and lost in the wild-card round), the 1996 Jaguars (finished 9-7 and lost in the AFC Championship), and the 2008 Chargers (finished 8-8 and lost in the wild-card round). Now, I don't think there's any way in heck that 9-7 gets a team into the NFC Playoffs this year, but just like Lloyd Christmas in the modern American classic Dumb and Dumber. . .I'm SAYIN' THERE'S A CHANCE!
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