NFL Playoff Picture: Breaking Down the NFC After 9 Weeks
Monday night’s Saints-Eagles game put a finishing touch to Week 9, and with slightly less than half the season remaining there is obviously still a lot of football to be played.
There is always an element of pointlessness to closely examining and interpreting the standings with so much yet to be determined, but it is still worth a look to see how the NFC is shaping up.
All four NFC North teams are in contention for a playoff spot, and in a league with laughingstock teams like the Jaguars, Chiefs, and Browns (oh, to be in the AFC) it is tough to have to face a potential playoff team in every divisional game. Here are the top 10 teams in the NFC thus far:
- Atlanta Falcons (8-0)
- Chicago Bears (7-1)
- San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
- New York Giants (6-3)
- Green Bay Packers (6-3)
- Seattle Seahawks (5-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
- Detroit Lions (4-4)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4)
- Arizona Cardinals (4-5)
The NFC North represents half of the top eight teams in the NFL as of this week, bringing forth the possibility of three teams representing this division in the playoffs. Despite a poor start, the Lions are very much a factor in the NFC playoff picture, albeit one that will have to likely come via wildcard spot.
The Packers, Lions, Vikings, Seahawks, and Buccaneers appear to be the top contenders for the two available wildcard positions, with the Falcons, Bears, 49ers, and Giants sitting on relatively safe divisional leads (permission not given to quote me on that). With so many divisional games remaining, the teams in the NFC North will be competing against the very teams vying for the same two playoff spots. The Seahawks own the tiebreaker over the Vikings and Packers (insert replacement referee joke here) and have a cakewalk schedule compared to what remains for the NFC North, and this will probably make it an uphill battle for teams from the North to grab a wildcard spot.
Between now and the end of December, though, anything could happen, so before you catch the next flight to Vegas to put your next three mortgage payments on the Seahawks making the playoffs you may want to let some things get decided on the football field.