The NFC playoff picture isn't quite as complicated as the AFC but there are a few spots to fill in the final month of the season. We've played 13 weeks and right now all we really know is that the Packers and 49ers will be in the playoffs. The Saints should win the AFC South up two games with four to play while the Cowboys hang onto a one-game lead over the Giants in the NFC East.
The wildcard spots are getting interesting because you have, essentially, four teams vying for two spots and three of those four teams have identical records.
If the playoffs started today, the NFC seeds would be: 1.) Packers 2.) 49ers 3.) Saints 4.) Cowboys 5.) Bears 6.) Falcons.
That's where things stand right now but the Lions and Giants will be involved, too. Detroit has the same 7-5 record as the two current wildcards (Chicago and Atlanta) so tiebreakers could factor in there. The Giants are a game behind both the Bears and Falcons for the final wildcard spot.
The NFC East continues to be one of the most interesting divisions in the NFL. Just a few weeks ago it looked like the Giants were en route to wrapping up a division title but a four-game skid now has the Cowboys atop the division. Dallas lost last Sunday but New York did, too, which means the Cowboys remain in first place. The Giants are one game behind three others fighting for the final wildcard spot.
Prediction: Cowboys win the division, no wildcard.
NFC North: Packers (12-0), Lions (7-5), Bears (7-5), Vikings (2-10)
The Packers have already wrapped up the NFC North division title so they're in. The only thing they're playing for now is home field advantage throughout the playoffs (besides the perfect season) which they shouldn't have a problem doing. The intrigue in this division comes from the Lions and Bears, who are both 7-5 and vying for a playoff bid. Who has the tougher road? The Bears play the Broncos, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings while the Lions play the Vikings, Raiders, Chargers and Packers. Chicago's road may be a little tougher considering their quarterback situation with Caleb Hanie.
Prediction: Packers win the division, Lions get the wildcard.
Four games remain and the Saints, who are among the league's hottest teams, hold a two-game lead. We expect New Orleans to pull in the division title by Week 17 but they're not the only team involved in the playoff picture in the NFC South. The Falcons would have the final seed in the NFC if the playoffs started today. They need to hold off the Bears and/or Lions down the stretch for a wildcard spot.
Prediction: Saints win the division, Falcons get the wildcard.
Not much to say here. The 49ers will be one of the top four seeds as the division winner and the Seahawks and Cardinals, admittedly playing better lately, will likely be watching from home.
Prediction: 49ers win the division, no wildcard.