Who’s In and Who’s Out?: NFC Playoffs

It’s the time in the NFL season where the playoffs start to take shape. Teams are finding themselves firmly in or out of the race and some are trying to weasel their ways into a wild card. Although, who is going to finish the season representing the NFC in the playoffs?

New Orleans Saints

Current Record: 10-2

Projected Finish: 14-2 (1st seed)

The New Orleans Saints suffered a loss this week to the Dallas Cowboys which would make them the second seed if the season ended today. Luckily for the Saints, they have the tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Rams and would finish with the first seed if the Rams ended the season with the same record. The Rams are currently a game ahead of the Saints and have a much easier schedule in comparison. They play the struggling Panthers twice and their hardest remaining opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Los Angeles Rams

Current Record: 11-1

Projected Finish: 14-2 (2nd seed)

The Rams have already clinched the NFC West title with their win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday and they seem to be steamrolling toward a bye in the playoffs. If they finish with the same record as the Saints, they will end up with the 2nd seed since the Saints have the tiebreaker. The Rams have a challenge remaining against Chicago and not much else. There’s a chance they sit starters in Week 17 vs San Francisco but seeing as they lost to New Orleans on the road, they’d likely be fighting for home field advantage as the season draws to a close.

Chicago Bears 

Current Record: 8-4

Projected Finish: 12-4 (3rd seed)

The recent loss to the New York Giants puts the Bears in a tricky spot. The Minnesota Vikings lost to the New England Patriots which helps them hold their game and a half lead but they have a tough game coming up against the Rams. Their defense is among the league’s best and quarterback Mitch Trubisky will likely return for that game as well. For the Bears to lay claim to the division, this upcoming game is an important one versus the Rams.

Dallas Cowboys

Current Record: 7-5

Projected Finish: 10-6 (4th seed)

The Cowboys have proved themselves with their win over the Saints as the only team in the NFC East good enough to make the playoffs. The Washington Redskins looked like the team poised to make it but the injury to quarterback Alex Smith highlighted the team’s weaknesses on offense and looks to be sending them into an all-out collapse. The Philadelphia Eagles have been hurt with injuries all over the board, most notably at the wide receiver as well as a young, inexperienced secondary. It is starting to look like it’s getting too little too late for the team to make a run. The Giants roundup the NFC East and won’t be competitive until Eli Manning is no longer the quarterback.

Minnesota Vikings

Current Record: 6-5-1

Projected Finish: 9-6-1 (5th seed)

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The Vikings and the Bears both deserve to win the NFC North but as of now, the Bears seem more primed to win it based on the position they’re in. They have an easier schedule and already have a game and a half lead. However, the NFC is proving to be fairly shallow and the Vikings should fairly easily find themselves with the 5th seed by the time the playoffs start.

Seattle Seahawks

Current Record: 7-5

Projected Finish: 9-7 (6th seed)

Speaking of how shallow the NFC is, the Seahawks were not necessarily viewed as a strong team coming into the year, having some think they would be one of the worst teams in the NFL. The offense boasts Russell Wilson and a surprisingly decent rushing attack with Chris Carson leading the charge. The defense is a fraction of what it once was, largely in part to Kam Chancellor retiring and Richard Sherman leaving but it’s been enough to keep them afloat in the race for this long.

On The Outside

Carolina Panthers

Current Record: 6-6

Projected Finish: 8-8

The Panthers started out hot and found themselves in a skid over the past couple weeks and there’s no worse time to get in a skid then in the final four weeks of the season when you play the Saints twice.

Washington Redskins

Current Record: 6-5

Projected Finish: 7-9

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Colt McCoy has basically derailed the team and there doesn’t seem to be a scenario where the Redskins can make something out of nothing and pull a run together.

 

 

 

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