Now that we’ve crossed into the second half of the season, it’s time to start looking at playoff seeding. Every week we’ll check out the current standings and seedings while also breaking down each game that has any NFC playoff relevance.
If the NFL playoffs started today, these would be the NFC standings based on all the NFC teams with records at .500 or better:
- Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1)
- Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
- Detroit Lions (5-4)
- New York Giants (6-3)
- Washington (5-3-1)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
- Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1)
- The Vikings are behind the Lions in the NFC North due to a head-to-head loss in Week 9. They play again on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.
- The Vikings are behind the Eagles due to a head-to-head loss in Week 7.
The most notable thing here is the overwhelming presence of NFC East teams. The Cowboys would be the top seed with New York and Washington taking both Wild Card Spots. Top top it off, the Eagles are next closest to earning a playoff spot.
Obviously, there’s still a lot of season to go and there will be some big shifts. Technically, the 1-8 San Francisco 49ers are still mathematically in the playoff race. However, using common sense, we’re going to look at things through a realistic lens.
So, with that said, let’s take a look at the NFL Week 11 games that will impact the NFC playoff standings. As always, we’ll be look at everything from the standpoint of what helps our Cowboys.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
The Saints are 4-5 and fighting to stay relevant. The reigning NFC Champions, at 3-6, have won two of their last three and may still be hoping for a late-season surge. A loss here will do considerable damage those goals. Neither team is likely to catch the Falcons in the NFC South, but they could still be Wild Card factors if they string some wins together.
Baltimore Ravens @ Dallas Cowboys
Dallas bring its eight-game winning streak back home to host the 5-4 Ravens. It won’t be easy for the Cowboys as they face Baltimore’s top-ranked defense, but other strong run defenses haven’t been able to find answers for Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas should keep to their winning ways.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Detroit Lions
Detroit’s tenuous lead in the NFC North will be helped by a visit from the struggling Jaguars. The Lions have won four of their last five and Matthew Stafford is playing the best football of his career. They should pick up another win here.
Tampa Bay Bucs @ Kansas City Chiefs
Like the Saints and Panthers in their division, the Buccaneers are just trying to stay close. They are 4-5 now but face a tough road test against the 7-2 Chiefs. This will likely be a backwards step in Tampa’s postseason push.
Chicago Bears @ New York Giants
The pesky Giants, at 6-3, should get the win at home against the declawed Bears. New York has a head-to-head tiebreaker against Dallas currently, so every week they can keep pace is notable for Cowboys fans. With seven weeks left in the season, a two-game lead doesn’t mean much.
Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings
Still in the mix with a 5-4 record, the Vikings feel like they’re about done this season. They’ve lost four straight and it whatever voodoo was helping them early in the year has vanished. They might get the win here against a middling Cardinals squad, but neither of these teams has the feel of a playoff contender.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Seattle Seahawks
The biggest game in the NFC this week, the Eagles are hanging around the playoff picture at just a half-game behind Washington. Seattle is starting to look like their old selves now that Russell Wilson is healthy. The Cowboys benefit either way here, but one could argue that an Eagles win does them more good as it keeps Seattle further from the top seed and home field advantage.
Green Bay Packers @ Washington
Desperation has struck Wisconsin as Aaron Rodgers and his head coach are trading barbs in the media. The perennial NFC-contending Packers will be looking right the ship against a solid Washington team. While I enjoy seeing the calamity in Green Bay, a Washington loss is still better here to help pad the Cowboys’ division lead.