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NFL Playoff Picture: Not Much Changes For NFC After Week 13

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Week 13 of the NFL season is over the NFC and all the contenders basically held serve. The only real loser this week was Tampa… Luckily, there are some big games between NFC contenders in the coming weeks which will cause some separation at the top.

The Philadelphia Eagles started the week with Thursday night victory of the Texans. The New York Giants kept pace in the NFC East with an expected win over the Washington Redskins. The Eagles and Giants are even at 8-4, with the Eagles holding the tiebreaker for beating the Giants head to head. They will meet in New York in two weeks. In the meantime, the Giants have a tough game in Green Bay next week while the Eagles head to Dallas.

The NFC South got a little clearer as the Atlanta Falcons effectively eliminated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from division contention. At 7-4 the Bucs are behind three other teams for two wildcard spots. Their loss today just may have put them out of the playoffs altogether. The Saints stayed alive in the South with a last minute victory at the Bengals. The defending champs are now just a game back of the Falcons, with the two teams scheduled to play week 16 in Atlanta. The Falcons by the way, now have the easiest schedule in football to end the year.

The NFC West now has two teams at .500! The consensus worst division in football finally has some separation with the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks at 6-6. The Rams hold the head to head tiebreaker for now, but the two will play at Seattle in the final week of the year. It’s going to be a tough road for the young Rams however, as they have games against the Saints on the road and the likely playoff bound Chiefs. Plus of course, that last game is in Seattle. That said, the Seahawks don’t have it any easier with games against Atlanta and at Tampa.

The NFC North is still a two team race between the 9-3 Bears and the 8-4 Packers. The Bears have the toughest final games of any team in the NFL hosting New England, traveling to Minnesota, hosting the Jets and then heading to Green Bay in week 17. Getting the Jets and Pats home is helpful for Chicago, but there’s not an easy game in that stretch. The Packers have only a marginally easier schedule as they go to Detroit, then face the Patriots on the road, come for the Giants and finish the year at home against the Bears. That week 17 game could very well be for the division. The Bears have already beaten the Packers this season, so that’s a huge must win for the Pack.

As for the wildcard race, the Saints are in the drivers season at 9-4. The Packers are Giants are tied at 8-4 and since the two will play next week, the other tiebreakers don’t really matter. Tampa is just behind them at 7-5.