Before last week’s games the Saints and Seahawks were the top two teams in the NFC. Now it’s the 49ers and Packers, and plenty of movement is still to come in the 2019 playoff picture. The Cowboys are still barely clinging to the lead in the NFC East, but could that change after Week 15?
It’s incredibly tight right now at the top of the conference and hard to say at this point who will wind up getting the first and second seeds. We may see plenty of flip-flopping between now and the end of the regular season.
From the Cowboys’ perspective, all that really matters is fighting off the Eagles and winning the division. Whoever shows up in Dallas for that first playoff game is interesting, but right now we’re close to slipping completely out of the postseason.
If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:
- San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
- Green Bay Packers (10-3)
- New Orleans Saints (10-3)
- Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
- Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
- Minnesota Vikings (9-4)
- Los Angeles Rams (8-5)
- Chicago Bears (7-6)
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
- The Packers (7-2) are seeded above the Saints (8-3) based on a superior record against NFC opponents.
- The Cowboys are ahead of the Eagles in the NFC East thanks to a head-to-head victory from Week 7. They play each other again in Week 16.
This weekly feature will focus on teams who are clear contenders in division or wild card races. We will adjust what teams are discussed as needed depending on shifts in the standings and if anyone currently unmentioned go on a late-season run.
Here are this week’s games involving the current NFC playoff contenders:
Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys
Dallas’ current three-game losing streak has cemented their need to win the NFC East if they want to make the playoffs. They have no realistic shot at catching up to the wild card teams, especially given their head-to-head loss to Minnesota earlier this season.
Last week was rough; the Cowboys lost in Chicago while the Eagles’ victory on Monday night pulled them even with Dallas in overall record. The schedule favors Philadelphia again this week as they head to Washington while the Cowboys are hosting a desperate Rams team.
Los Angeles is fighting for their playoff lives, still a game behind the Vikings and two behind the Seahawks as the current wild card teams. A loss to Dallas would likely kill their chances, hurting both their overall and conference record.
Dallas has extra rest coming into this game, having played on Thursday night in Week 14. But they are on the wrong end of the momentum; morale is near an all-time low right now with the Cowboys. Meanwhile, the Rams are coming off a big win over Seattle.
Can the Cowboys finally get a victory against a “winning” team? Their playoff chances may depend on it.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
While this one looks like an easy win for the Eagles on paper, they needed overtime and home field last week to beat the Giants. The Redskins may not be any better, but they are certainly capable of giving Philly a tough game.
This is the same Eagles team that lost in Miami two weeks ago. They have been just as baffling this year as the Cowboys; one of the ugliest division races in NFL history.
Despite their poor record, Washington has been giving good teams headaches this season. They pushed the Patriots earlier in the year and just last week had the Packers sweating. If they’re still feeling feisty, they just might do Dallas a huge favor.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
The Packers are part of that four-team jumble at the top of the NFC. They need this win for their own playoff positioning but get the added bonus of crushing the Bears’ postseason dreams.
Green Bay has been stunningly dominant over Chicago over the last decade. The Packers are 14-3 against the Bears since the 2011 season. Hard to bet against them this week with so much on the line.
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks dropped from the 2nd seed to 5th in the NFC playoffs with their loss to the Rams. While they still have a solid hold on a wild card spot, they want home field and need to bounce back this week to keep pace with the 49ers.
The Panthers are not strong competition this year but aren’t exactly bottom feeders, either. They can put up a fight, especially at home, but are now dealing with the turmoil of having fired their head coach a week ago.
Minnesota Vikings @ Los Angeles Chargers
The Vikings now have the Rams bearing down on them for that final NFC wild card spot. With tough division games against the Packers and Bears remaining on their schedule, Minnesota needs this win against the 5-8 Chargers for some cushion.
Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers
The Niners are back on top in the NFC but are always just one loss away from dropping down to a wild card spot. This home game with the Falcons is a nice opportunity for them to do a little record padding.
Indianapolis Colts @ New Orleans Saints
New Orleans has clinched the NFC South already but is still jockeying for an ideal playoff seeding. The Colts are still barely alive for an AFC wild card spot so will not be going away quietly, but the Saints should be able to handle their business at home and take another crucial step in earning one of the two-two seeds.