There are five weeks left in the regular season and the NFC playoff race is very tight. Let’s take a look at the standings and remaining games.
The Eagles are cruising for the NFC East title and lead the Vikings for home field advantage. The Eagles have some tough games coming up at Seattle and at the Rams. They also travel to the Giants for three road games in a row.
Finally, they finish at home against Oakland and Dallas. Philadelphia is a good team with both good offense and defense but will be tested for the bye and home field advantage. Eagles against the Seahawks and Rams is pretty big for the wild card teams. Many are hoping the Eagles win those games.
The Vikings took control of the North with a win on Thanksgiving in Detroit but the division is still not wrapped up despite a current 3 game lead. The Vikings travel to Atlanta and Carolina facing two potential playoff teams on the road. The Vikings host the Bengals who are fighting for the playoffs in the AFC and travel to Green Bay. The Packer game depends on the return of Aaron Rodgers for difficulty in Lambeau. Finally, the Vikings finish the regular season hosting the lowly the Bears. The Bears gave them a good game in the first one and will look to play spoiler in Week 17.
Minnesota must win their next two tough road games. If Detroit wins out and the Vikings drop 3 including to the Packers or Bears, the Lions could still win the North. Lions 4-1 and Vikings 1-4 is also possible. Minnesota has collapsed before but this team feels a bit different.
Los Angeles finally won a big game by beating the Saints last week. They travel to Arizona who just beat Jacksonville. This will be a tough divisional road game. The Rams then host the Eagles and travel to Seattle. Seattle won the first matchup and could take the divisional lead with a win. The Titans lead the AFC South and will be a road game for the Rams. Finally, the Rams hose the 49ers for a should be easy win to finish the season.
The Rams will have to not only earn the West against four tough opponents, they still need to earn a wild car spot if the Seahawks get the West. It won’t be easy for Los Angeles. Could they lose the last five and have the curse of Jeff Fisher continue this season?
The Saints lost their first two then went on an 8 game winning streak before losing to the Rams. They still have work to do in a tough NFC South. The Saints host the Panthers this week and travel to Atlanta next week for two crucial NFC South games. They host the Jets and then play the Falcons in the Super Dome. Finally, the travel to Tampa Bay for a possible spoiler divisional game in Week 17. The Saints hold the NFC South lead for now but with four divisional games left, the division is still wide open.
The Panthers travel to the Super Dome this week for a huge matchup. They must win this game for tiebreakers since they dropped the first game against the Saints. The Panthers host the Vikings in another tough matchup. They also welcome the Packers. Rodgers could be back for this game which would make it a much tougher game. Finally, the Panthers host the Buccaneers and travel to Atlanta to finish the season. The Panthers have four very tough games out of five to finish the season.
Atlanta will look to get back into the NFC South lead as defending South and NFC Champions. The Falcons host the Vikings and the Saints in the next two weeks. They travel to Tampa Bay and New Orleans and finally, host Carolina in the final game. The South will beat up on each other in the final 5 weeks. This is good for other wild card teams like Seattle and Detroit.
Seattle hosts the Eagles in a very tough home game without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks travel to face the 7-4 Jaguars and host the Rams in a huge divisional game. These are three tough games in a row. Seattle finishes at Dallas with Elliot back and hosting the Cardinals. Seattle needs to go at least 3-2 in the final 5 and beat the Rams for the sweep.
Detroit doesn’t play many teams with a winning record, however a few games could be tougher than expected. The Lions travel to the Ravens (6-5) who are battling for the 6th seed in the AFC. Detroit travels to Tampa Bay and then hosts the lowly Bears. Finally, Detroit goes to Cincinnati who are still battling for the wild card and host the Packers in Week 17. If Rodgers returns, this a mildly tougher schedule.
Detroit lost to the Falcons, Saints and Panthers so lack the head to head tie breakers. The Lions must win their 3 NFC games to help with conference record over Seattle and other North teams in case of a tie. Detroit probably needs 5-0 or 4-1 to make the playoffs or win the North. The other teams play each other and the Vikings have a tough schedule so it is very possible if Detroit executes in the final five games.
The Packers need to run the table again. Green Bay has two more games with Brett Hundley and host the Bucs and travel to Cleveland in those games. Green Bay can win those games without Rodgers. Aaron could make a triumphant return but will have a really tough schedule at Carolina, hosting the Vikings in Week 16 and traveling to Detroit in Week 17. Green Bay has no room for error and must go 5-0.
The Cowboys are riding out the Elliot suspension but will need to run the table as well. Dallas host the Redskins and travel to New York to face the Giant. They also then travel to Oakland. Dallas hosts Seattle and visit Philadelphia to end the season. The Cowboys must figure out a way to win out with 3 more games without Elliot. It seems improbable for them.
Washington needs to win out too. They go to Dallas and Los Angeles to play the Chargers. They host Arizona and Denver and travel to the Giants in the final week. They could run the table with the weak schedule but could lose two or three easily too.
Arizona must run the table too for any shot. They host the West leading Los Angeles Rams and the South leading Titans in the next two weeks. Arizona goes to Washington and host the Giants in Week 16. Finally, they travel to Seattle for a tough Week 17 matchup. Arizona is a real long shot to make the playoffs by running the table.