Last week’s games did more to solidify the NFC playoff picture than change it. The current contenders held onto their spots while the gap between the seventh seed and the outsiders widened. Will the Week 11 schedule further crystalize the upcoming tournament, or will we see more shakeup in this week’s results?
The Eagles were able to rest up without fear of losing their number-one seed. They now enter a tough stretch facing the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, and Cowboys over their next four games. If they can hang on to the top spot over the next four weeks, Philly deserves to be the NFC favorite going into the postseason.
The next eight weeks offer plenty of intriguing matchups with significant playoff ramifications. The aforementioned game between the Eagles and Niners, the rematch between Dallas and Philadelphia, both of the 49ers and Seahawks’ annual clashes, an Eagles-Seahawks match in Week 14, and the Cowboys’ December games against Detroit and Seattle. Even the two upcoming games between the Lions and Vikings have taken on new significance given Minnesota’s sudden surge.
Here are the playoff standings ahead of Week 11:
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-1 overall, 6-0 vs NFC)
- Detroit Lions (7-2 overall, 4-1 vs NFC)
- San Francisco 49ers (6-3 overall, 4-1 vs NFC)
- New Orleans Saints (5-5 overall, 2-3 vs NFC)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-3 overall, 5-1 vs NFC)
- Dallas Cowboys (6-3 overall, 3-3 vs NFC)
- Minnesota Vikings (6-4 overall, 6-2 vs NFC)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5 overall, 3-3 vs NFC)
- Washington Commanders (4-6 overall, 2-5 vs NFC)
- Atlanta Falcons (4-6 overall, 3-4 vs NFC)
The only active tiebreaker right now is Seattle’s superior record in NFC play making them the fifth seed over Dallas. That’s one ladder rung the Cowboys desperately need to climb before the end of the year; they’d much rather travel to play the eventual NFC South winner in a 4th/5th matchup than have to go to Detroit, Philadelphia, San Francisco, or Seattle as the sixth or seventh seed. If Dallas can’t win the NFC East this year, at least being the top wild card team is a crucial goal.
This week’s games don’t see much clashing between the NFC contenders. It’s more a week for record padding and avoiding upsets. There’s little debating what results would benefit the Cowboys in any of the Week 11 matchups.
Cowboys @ Panthers
Obviously, Dallas wants to keep winning and setting themselves up to take advantage of any slippage from the Eagles. A victory in Carolina also helps the Cowboys improve their 3-3 record against conference opponents; the worst mark of any current NFC contender. As we’ve said before, Dallas can’t afford any more bad days at the office after what happened earlier this year against the Cardinals. They need to bully the Panthers just like they have most of the bottom-feeders on their schedule this year.
Eagles @ Chiefs
Probably the best chance for a Philly loss the rest of the way comes on Monday night in Kansas City. The AFC-leading Chiefs are 4-1 at home and both teams are coming off their byes for this Super Bowl rematch. The Eagles will certainly be highly motivated to get revenge and maintain the best record in football right now, but KC is also trying to stay on top of their conference with Baltimore breathing down their necks.
Bears @ Lions
It’s the first meeting between Detroit and Chicago this year, and all signs point to QB Justin Fields returning to the lineup for the Bears. While few would expect the Lions to drop this one, division games can go sideways quickly. If the Cowboys can end up as NFC East Champs this year, they’d like to get the number-one seed as well. The Lions losing some more games this year would help.
Buccaneers @ 49ers
Tampa could eventually sneak into the playoffs as either the NFC South winner or the last wild card team. Either way, who really cares? All that matters this week is that they upset the Niners and help keep San Francisco from winning the NFC West.
Seahawks @ Rams
We’re in a bit of a quandary right now with how to root when it comes to Seattle. While the Cowboys would like to see Seattle win the NFC West and help them avoid the 49ers, it would also be nice for Dallas to jump above the Seahawks in the wild card seedings. Both could still happen, but of the two it’s far preferable for the 49ers to end up as a wild card. We need Seattle to keep pace in the division and facilitate that goal.
Vikings @ Broncos
Minnesota is suddenly relevant again after surprising wins with QB Josh Dobbs filling in for the injured Kirk Cousins. Whoever does make it as the third wild card team in the NFC has a chance at knocking off the second seed, so it’d be nice for it to be a team with the ability to compete. Minnesota seems as good as any other option for that.
Giants @ Commanders
Washington lost the game but maintained respectability last week in Seattle. They’re a scrappy team but too inconsistent to be a real postseason threat. They’ll probably get a cheap win this Sunday against the hapless Giants, but it’s hard to see them staying in the playoff conversation much longer.