Division Leaders (Week 13)
Los Angeles Rams (9-2) (@Det, @Chi, vs. Phi, @Ari, vs. SF) Rams are in the driver’s seat for the 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage but have a nice 3 game test coming; with back to back road games against Detroit and Chicago followed by a tough home game with the Eagles, a lot can move for the Rams and the whole NFC depending on how those 3 games shake out.
New York Giants (9-2) (vs. Chi, @Was, vs. Ten, @Ind, vs. Dal) The Giants have now taken a two game lead in the East with 5 to play. The back stretch will be fun to watch unfold as every game in this division is crucial with all 4 teams still having a shot at the division crown.
Atlanta Falcons (9-2) (vs. Bal, @GB, vs. Ari, @Car, @TB) Falcons are coming off a big walk-off win over the Saints and control the South. This coming pair of games (Baltimore and Green Bay) will be a true test for Atlanta as they have Carolina waiting to pounce on any misstep. Their week 16 matchup may be for the division. Atlanta looks like the best team in Red Zone and they’ll have every opportunity to put themselves in position to make a deep playoff run.
Green Bay Packers (8-2) (@Min, vs. Ari, vs. Atl, @Chi, @NYJ, vs. Det) The Packers, like the Falcons look like a powerhouse, primed and ready to compete for the Lombardi. They currently sit at 2nd in points scored per game, 2nd in total yards gained per game and on defense they rank 4th in points allowed per game and 1st is fewest yards surrendered. The Pack look like a juggernaut and when the Falcons come to Lambeau it may just be a preview of the NFC Championship.
Wild Card Contenders
Detroit Lions (8-3) (vs. LAR, @Ari, @Buf, vs. Min, @GB) One of the surprise contenders we’ve seen in SZN 46, the Lions are steadily making believers out of the other 31 owner/coach/GM’s in the league. If Detroit can handle the Rams the league will officially be put on notice that the Lions are here to contend. Looking at the schedule, they can easily get to 11-5 which should be good enough to get them in, if they can sneak past either LAR or GB, they may end up with the North crown AND a bye week.
Chicago Bears (8-3) (@NYG, vs. LAR, vs. GB, @SF, @Min) The Bears flew out of the gate going 5-0 and upsetting the Packers in week 1, making the statement that they’d be here at this point contending for playoff relevance. Now, with a murderers row of games in their next 3, they’ll need at least one big win to stay in the conversation, getting at least one of those games should get them in position to make the post season, if they lose all 3 and cap their season 10-6 tough to see how that gets them in.
Carolina Panthers (8-3) (@TB, @Cle, vs. NO, vs. Atl, @NO) The Panthers have the second best point differential in RedZone (+114). The schedule sets up nicely for them to have a good shot at stealing the division from the Falcons come week 16. But they can’t overlook the Bucs, Browns or Saints on their way to that game or it won’t matter. Falcons have a tougher road but they own a full game lead, the Panthers can’t afford to let any slip.
Dallas Cowboys (7-4)(vs. NO, vs. Phi, @Ind, vs. TB, @NYG) Oddly, the Cowboys are coming off a blowout loss to the Washington after they’d beaten them by 30 earlier in the season. That loss brings into question the consistency of this Dallas team. If they can find some, they have a good shot at winning out and getting into the tournament, if they can’t, chances are they’ll be on the outside looking in. The schedule is just tough enough to demand that Dallas brings their A-game every week if they intend on making a run at the Lombardi.
Washington (7-4)(@Phi, vs. NYG, @Jax, @Ten, vs. Phi) Another team that seems to possess dual identities. Will crush a contender one week and follow up with a dud the next. Finding consistency is the key for this outfit. Bob Griff’s injury has thrown a wrench into the plan but Alex Smith may be more suited to the best style of ball for this team anyway. If they settle into a QB and tailor the offense accordingly, they can become more stable and contend.
The Eagles & Saints are still within range but will need a good bit of help to squeeze in. Both teams have tough schedules to close it out but neither is buried, yet.