With only one game left in Week 15. . .a game that has just about zero relevance to the playoff chase. . .it’s time for our weekly look at the playoff picture in the NFC. After a wild weekend of football that started with our Minnesota Vikings posting the biggest comeback in NFL history, the madness continued into Sunday and helped to clarify things a bit. Let’s take a look at where everything stands in the NFC as we get ready for Week 16.
#1 seed - Philadelphia Eagles (13-1, NFC East leader)
The Eagles still have not wrapped up the NFC East, but all they require to do that is one more win or one more Dallas loss. They’re also one win and/or one Minnesota loss away from officially clinching the #1 seed in the NFC and capturing the lone bye for Wild Card Weekend. They had a tougher time than they probably should have with the Bears this week, but they keep getting the job done. That’s really just about all that matters.
Remaining opponents: at Dallas, vs New Orleans, vs New York Giants
#2 seed - Minnesota Vikings (11-3, NFC North champions)
It took a lot of craziness to get them there, but the Vikings finally wrapped up the NFC North and held on to the #2 spot in the conference. San Francisco is right on their heels and, given the Niners’ schedule over the final three weeks, the Vikings might have to run the table to maintain that position. They can’t drop anywhere below the #3 spot, but the difference between the 2 and the 3 is staying at home for the Divisional Round vs going on the road to (likely) San Francisco. Can they do it?
Remaining opponents: vs. New York Giants, at Green Bay, at Chicago
#3 seed - San Francisco 49ers (10-4, NFC West champions)
Kyle Shanahan’s team wrapped up their division with their win over Seattle on Thursday night. That defense is just ridiculous and, honestly, it doesn’t seem to matter who they start at quarterback. The adage has long been that teams that win in the postseason run the ball and play defense, and the Niners do both of those things incredibly well. Honestly, they might be the scariest team in the conference right now, with all due respect to Philadelphia.
Remaining opponents: vs Washington, at Las Vegas, vs Arizona
#4 seed - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8, NFC South leaders)
Yes, here’s your weekly reminder that the NFC South is freaking terrible. The Bucs are at 6-8, but the other three teams in the division are all within a game of them. That means that the NFC South will almost assuredly send a team with a losing record into the postseason, and that means they’ll still get to host a playoff game. You can argue whether that means the system is flawed or not. . .personally, I think that winning your division should mean something, no matter how ugly it is.
Remaining opponents: at Arizona, vs Carolina, at Atlanta
#5 seed - Dallas Cowboys (10-4, NFC East #2, clinched playoff spot)
The Cowboys wrapped up a playoff spot in Week 15, despite wetting themselves against Jacksonville. They got that spot when the Commanders lost to the Giants on Sunday Night Football. With their loss, however, they’ve pretty much locked themselves into the #5 spot in the conference. Fortunately for them, that means they get the opportunity to face whoever wins the NFC South pillow fight before, potentially, getting another shot at the Eagles.
Remaining opponents: vs. Philadelphia, at Tennessee, at Washington
#6 seed - New York Giants (8-5-1, NFC East #3)
The Giants gave themselves a leg up on Washington by avenging their tie from a couple of weeks ago. (If ties can be avenged, I guess.) That means this weekend’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium isn’t a playoff preview. . .not yet, anyway. The Giants have a pretty rough schedule the rest of the way, as they have road games coming against the current top two teams in the conference, so they’ll have their work cut out for them to hold on to this spot.
Remaining opponents: at Minnesota, vs Indianapolis, at Philadelphia
#7 seed - Washington Commanders (7-6-1, NFC East #4)
Washington drops to the final playoff spot with their loss on Sunday Night Football, which currently means we’d get a rematch of the Week 9 matchup that the Vikings won, 20-17. You can decide for yourself whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I think it might be the best matchup the Vikings could hope for, all things considered. I don’t think Taylor Heinicke would walk into U.S. Bank Stadium and end Minnesota’s season or anything.
Remaining opponents: at San Francisco, vs Cleveland, vs Dallas
Outside Looking In
#8 seed - Seattle Seahawks (7-7, NFC West #2)
#9 seed - Detroit Lions (7-7, NFC North #2, behind Seattle based on head-to-head)
- Remaining opponents: at Carolina, vs Chicago, at Green Bay
#10 seed - Green Bay Packers (5-8, NFC North #3)
- Remaining opponents: vs Los Angeles Rams, at Miami, vs Minnesota, vs Detroit
#11 seed - Carolina Panthers (5-9, NFC South #2)
- Remaining opponents: vs Detroit, at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans
#12 seed - New Orleans Saints (5-9, NFC South #3, behind Carolina based on head-to-head)
- Remaining opponents: at Cleveland, at Philadelphia, vs Carolina
#13 seed - Atlanta Falcons (5-9, NFC South #4, behind New Orleans based on head-to-head)
- Remaining opponents: at Baltimore, vs Arizona, vs Tampa Bay
#14 seed - Los Angeles Rams (4-9, NFC West #3)
- Remaining opponents: at Green Bay, vs Denver, at Los Angeles Chargers, at Seattle
#15 seed - Arizona Cardinals (4-10, NFC West #4, eliminated from playoff contention)
- Remaining opponents: vs Tampa Bay, at Atlanta, at San Francisco
#16 seed - Chicago Bears (3-11, NFC North #4, eliminated from playoff contention)
- Remaining opponents: vs Buffalo, at Detroit, vs Minnesota
There’s your playoff picture in the NFC as things stand right now, folks. There’s still quite a bit to be decided over the final three weeks. Here’s hoping that our team can be on the better end of it.