The Dallas Cowboys have won three straight games and now hold the top spot in the NFC East. If the season ended today, they would win the division and host a playoff game on wild card weekend. Since the Cowboys have now joined the postseason conversation, it’s a good time to take a look around and see who all the other playoff contenders are.
After this week’s action, here’s a run down of the current playoff picture in the NFC.
The Cowboys have a date with the top-seeded New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. Both the Saints and Los Angeles Rams are sitting at 10-1, but New Orleans holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over them by beating them 45-35 a few weeks ago. While the Saints currently have bragging rights for the top seed, don’t be surprised if the Rams jump them by season’s end. Los Angeles only has one game against a team with a winning record (Chicago) whereas the Saints have four of their five remaining games against teams with a winning record.
New Orleans is the hot team right now after winning 10 straight, but after the Rams 54-51 shootout victory of the Kansas City Chiefs, they look every bit as deserving for the title of best team in the NFL.
The Bears are the surprise team as most people didn’t have them picked to come out of the NFC North, but a stellar defense combined with an improved offense has them sitting pretty in the division. Chicago is the only team in the NFC to be in the top 10 in points scored and points allowed. They are good on both sides of the ball.
Speaking of good on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys finally have some balance with the addition of Amari Cooper joining the offense. As our pal K.D. Drummond pointed out, if you were to evaluate the Cowboys offense based solely on the four games with Cooper, they would also finish in the top 10 in points scored and points allowed. If the Cowboys offense can start firing, they could stay atop the East and be right in the playoff mix.
The Minnesota Vikings hold the fifth spot after beating the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. As it stands now, the Vikings would be the Cowboys wild card matchup to open the playoffs.
Despite losing three of their last four games, the Washington Redskins still hold down the last playoff spot. There’s actually a three-way tie for sixth place as the Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, and Carolina Panthers all have a 6-5 record this season. The Redskins and Seahawks have the tiebreaker over the Panthers because of head-to-head wins and Washington has the edge over Seattle by virtue of having a better conference record.
On the bubble...
7. Seattle Seahawks (6-5): They’re still hanging around after winning their last two games. After four straight tough games, they’ll now get to face divisional layups, San Francisco (twice) and Arizona, down the stretch.
8. Carolina Panthers (6-5): After a 6-2 start, they’ve now lost three straight and are now outside looking in on the playoff picture. They have a tough final game stretch, playing the Saints in two of their final three games of the year.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6): With their season on the line, they narrowly escaped with a win over the Giants. The only good thing to come out of that is we can now put to rest any thought of a Giants hot streak to get back in it. They’re done. Philly now has a date with the Redskins next week which will be another do or die game for them.