With most of the Week 14 action in the National Football League in the books, we can go ahead and take our weekly look at the playoff picture in the NFC. The two games that are left (Dolphins/Chargers and Cardinals/Patriots) aren’t going to have any real bearing on anything we’re going to talk about here.
The loss to Detroit on Sunday afternoon didn’t have any real effect on the Minnesota Vikings’ playoff chances. Their odds of winning the NFC North dropped from 99.9% all the way to. . .99.8%. But it was a pretty devastating loss for another reason, and we’ll get into that here shortly. For now, here’s how things look in our favorite conference.
#1 seed - Philadelphia Eagles (12-1, NFC East leader, clinched playoff berth)
The Vikings’ loss, essentially, sewed up the #1 seed for the Eagles. They’re now two games ahead of both the Vikings in the conference and Dallas in their division, and they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both. The Eagles losing the first-round bye at this point would require them to lose at least three of their last four. Do you see that happening? I certainly don’t.
Next opponent: at Chicago, Sunday
#2 seed - Minnesota Vikings (10-3, NFC North leader)
With the #1 seed basically out of reach, the Vikings now have to worry about not dropping to the 3 spot and, potentially, having to go on the road for a second playoff game rather than having two guaranteed games at home. Then again, if somebody doesn’t figure out what the heck is going on with this team’s defense, they’re likely not going to have to worry about a second playoff game at all.
Next opponent: vs Indianapolis, Saturday
#3 seed - San Francisco 49ers (9-4, NFC West leader)
The Niners just keep on rolling along despite losing Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, as Brock Purdy led his team to a victory over Tom Brady and company. There’s a reason that this team seems to find themselves with the “team nobody wants to play in the playoffs” label every year, and that’s because that defense is ridiculously good. Now they hold their breath and wait to see how severe Deebo Samuel’s leg injury is.
Next opponent: at Seattle, Thursday
#4 seed - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7, NFC South leader)
I say this every week, but good lord is the NFC South bad. The Bucs’ loss today means that both Carolina and Atlanta are just a game out of the division lead. That division is going to go right down to the wire, which again means that some team that absolutely doesn’t deserve it is going to get a home playoff game. (Well, other than the Vikings, depending on one’s perspective.)
Next opponent: vs Cincinnati, Sunday
#5 seed - Dallas Cowboys (10-3, NFC East #2)
The Cowboys had a hell of a time with Houston on Sunday, but they managed to pull it off in the end to keep pace with the Eagles. They’re still two games down and the Eagles still have the tiebreaker advantage, but it looks like the Cowboys have pretty much secured themselves the 5 spot at worst, meaning that they’ll get that trip to the aforementioned NFC South champion in the postseason.
Next opponent: at Jacksonville, Sunday
#6 seed - Washington Commanders (7-5-1, NFC East #3)
The Commanders won by not playing on Sunday, as New York’s loss to Philadelphia allowed Washington to leapfrog into the #6 spot in the conference. Those two teams will play the rematch of the tie they had last week in Week 15, with the winner putting themselves firmly into the driver’s seat for one of those last two Wild Card spots.
Next opponent: vs New York, Sunday night
#7 seed - New York Giants (7-5-1, NFC East #4, behind Washington based on division record)
Washington is 1-2-1 against the NFC East while the Giants are 0-3-1. That Sunday night game feels like more of a must-win for the Giants for some reason, but we’re still back to the point where the entire NFC East would be in the playoffs if the season ended today thanks to Seattle’s loss to Carolina in the late afternoon window on Sunday.
Next opponent: at Washington, Sunday night
Outside Looking In
- #8 seed - Seattle Seahawks (7-6, NFC West #2, vs San Francisco, Thursday)
- #9 seed - Detroit Lions (6-7, NFC North #2, at New York Jets, Sunday)
- #10 seed - Green Bay Packers (5-8, NFC North #3, vs Los Angeles Rams, Monday)
- #11 seed - Carolina Panthers (5-8, NFC South #2, behind Green Bay based on strength of victory, vs Pittsburgh, Sunday)
- #12 seed - Atlanta Falcons (5-8, NFC South #3, behind Carolina based on division record, at New Orleans, Sunday)
- #13 seed - Arizona Cardinals (4-8, NFC West #3, at New England tomorrow, at Denver, Sunday)
- #14 seed - New Orleans Saints (4-9, NFC South #4, vs Atlanta, Sunday)
- #15 seed - Los Angeles Rams (4-9, NFC West #4, behind New Orleans based on head-to-head, at Green Bay, Monday)
- #16 seed - Chicago Bears (3-10, NFC North #4, vs Philadelphia, Sunday, officially eliminated from playoff contention)
That’s your playoff picture in the NFC as things stand right now, folks. Here’s hoping that our favorite team can get it together and stay in that second spot in the conference.