Predicting the Final NFC Playoff Picture
1 – Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)
2 – Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
3 – LA Rams (10-4)
4 – New Orleans Saints (10-4)
5 – Carolina Panthers (10-4)
6 – Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
7 – Detroit Lions (8-6)
8 – Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
9 – Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
What you see above is the current NFC playoff race. Only 6 teams can make the playoffs, and two of those spots have already been filled. Only 4 teams can still get in. Although there are 4 spots still open, I really think it’s more like 1 spot. While it’s no guarantee, most people say if you win 10 games you’re in the playoffs. The top 5 teams right now have all won 10 games, so it’s pretty likely all of those teams will get in. That leaves 4 NFC teams competing for a chance at the last spot in the playoffs.
While there may only be one spot left to get into the playoffs, teams can still fight for playoff seeding. The Panthers could overtake the Saints and win the division to lock up the 4 or possibly 3 seed. If the Vikings lose the rest of their games, they might lose out on a first round bye. There’s only two things we know for sure right now, and that’s the Eagles having a first round bye and the Vikings being in the playoffs. Everything else is up for grabs. Below I will break down how the final two games of the season look for each of the 9 teams above, also predicting which seed each team will finish with.
Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)
As mentioned above, one of the two sure things in the NFC playoff picture right now is the Eagles having a first round bye. It’s not a lock yet that they’ll have home field advantage. The Eagles need to get one more win or a Vikings loss to lock up home field throughout the playoffs. The remaining games for the Eagles are against the Raiders and Cowboys. Oakland has been struggling, so I’m predicting the Eagles will win, giving them their home field advantage next week. If they beat the Raiders, what happens against the Cowboys in their final game doesn’t really matter, unless they want to for sure keep Dallas out of the playoffs by beating them too.
Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
The second sure thing we know in the NFC is that the Vikings will be in the playoffs. They haven’t secured a first round bye just yet. The Rams and Saints are right on their tail. They can still get home field advantage, but the Eagles will have to lose both of their remaining games. That’s not really something the Vikings can control, but what they can control is them winning their last two games. They play the Packers this week and the Bears in their final game. Aaron Rodgers will not be playing, so I say Minnesota wins both games and secures a first round bye in the playoffs.
LA Rams (10-4)
Since the Rams beat the Saints, they can lock up the 3 seed by winning their last two games. They have the Titans up next with the 49ers following. Tennessee hasn’t been playing well lately, so I’m giving them a win there. Do we really need to debate who will win the game against the 49ers? Yes, they’re 3-0 under Jimmy Garoppolo, but those 3 wins have come against the Titans, Texans, and Bears. I predict the Rams will win out, but unfortunately I also have the Vikings winning out. Rams secure the 3 seed.
New Orleans Saints (10-4)
Here’s where it gets a little interesting. New Orleans is technically in the lead of their division, but the Panthers have the same record. The Saints still have Atlanta and Tampa Bay on the schedule. The game against the Falcons will be tough, but I think the Saints will get their revenge at home. I don’t see the Saints losing to the Buccaneers, which puts the Saints finishing with a record of 12-4. For the Saints, it’s win both games and lock up the division.
Carolina Panthers (10-4)
If the Panthers want to win their division, they have to win their two remaining games. They also need the Saints to lose one of their games. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Falcons beat the Saints this week, but the Panthers also have to play the Falcons one more time. I have the Saints beating the Falcons and winning out, which means the Panthers best seed will be fifth. Carolina beat Atlanta earlier in the season, and I think they beat them again to secure their playoff spot.
Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
Atlanta needs to win at least one game to get into the playoffs. Unfortunately I have them losing their last two games against the Saints and Panthers, which means they’re probably not getting in. This is not the same team form a year ago, and their struggles against the Buccaneers really showed. I’m predicting at least one of the teams behind them to win out and get 10 wins, but I won’t tell you who it is just yet. Keep reading to find out!
Detroit Lions (8-6)
The Lions don’t have an easy win against the Bengals. The Bengals have had some competitive games, but also some very not competitive games. I have the Lions winning this game. Detroit plays the Packers in their final game. With Aaron Rodgers not playing the rest of the season, this should be a victory for the Lions. There’s no automatic wins, but I think the Lions have one of the easiest remaining schedules of all the NFC teams in playoff contention.
Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
I have Seattle losing to the Dallas Cowboys, especially after the beating they took to the Rams. Ezekiel Elliott is back and that will fire up the Dallas Cowboys. Their final game against the Cardinals should be a victory, but at that point it will be too late for the Seahawks to get in.
Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
Dallas needs to win both of their games, the Lions to lose once, and the Falcons, Saints, or Panthers to lose twice to get in. I have the Falcons losing twice, but I also have the Lions winning out. Dallas can win their last two games, especially with Zeke back. This team will be almost to full strength, and their final two games are against a beat up Seahawks team and an Eagles team who probably won’t care what happens in their final game.
Final NFC Playoff Standing Prediction
1 – Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
2 – Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
3 – LA Rams (12-4)
4 – New Orleans Saints (12-4)
5 – Carolina Panthers (12-4)
6 – Detroit Lions (10-6)