Unlike the AFC, the NFC has little breathing room to make an appearance in the NFL postseason. This is because the NFC has four teams that have already clinched playoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles currently hold the number one spot at 13-1. The Vikings are number two at 11-3. The San Francisco 49ers are tied at 10-4 with the Cowboys, but they get the third spot since the Cowboys are second in the NFC East behind the Eagles. The Cowboys have a spot in the NFL postseason secured as one of the three wild card spots. Here is a brief breakdown of the teams remaining and their chances of playing beyond the regular season.
#4 Tamp Bay Buccaneers: First NFC South, 18th NFL
Every team in the NFC South has a shot at the NFL postseason, thanks to the Buccaneers. The Bucs hold a one-game advantage over the three other teams. At 6-8, the Bucs hold the fourth seed in the playoffs, but how long will they be able to hold on? Tom Brady has looked like a shell of his former self, and issues on the offensive line have resulted in Brady getting sacked multiple times every game. With only a one-game lead, every game will be important as the NFL closes out the remaining three games on the schedule.
The Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and the Atlanta Falcons are all at 5-9 and have a shot at the playoffs. The Bucs will face two of these teams in the remaining three games of the season. Starting in Week 16, the Bucs will take on the Arizona Cardinals, who have already been knocked out of playoff contention. Next up are the Panthers and, finally, the Falcons. Week 17 and 18 will be huge for the NFC South. Only time will tell to see if we see Brady and the Bucs in the playoffs or sitting on the couch.
#6 New York Giants: Third NFC East, Ninth NFL
Thanks to the new seedings that were released in 2020, every NFC East team can secure a spot in the playoffs. The Giants are third in the NFC East with an 8-5-1 record. They currently hold the second spot in the wild card if the regular season ends now. How the Giants found themselves so high in the rankings is still a mystery. Outside of running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones, the rest of the team is filled with practice squad players and player names that no one has heard of.
They repeatedly prove everyone wrong as they continue to rack up the wins. Per the New York Times, the Giants have an 88% chance of making the playoffs. After a tie with the Washington Commanders in Week 13 and a win against them in Week 15, the Giants have a slight advantage over the last seed. The three remaining games will be against the Minnesota Vikings, the Indianapolis Colts, and division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Vikings and Eagles are still battling for the number one seed in the conference, so they will continue to play all of their starters, making these two games very difficult, especially since they are both away games. In Week 17, the Giants will welcome a Colts team that just lost their all-star running back for the year and will be starting Nick Foles at quarterback for the first time this season.
#7 Washington Commanders: Fourth NFC East, 12th NFL
The team that is last in the NFC East and still in the playoff hunt, the Commanders, have had an up-and-down season but continues to add digits in the win column. After a tie to the Giants in Week 13 and a loss to them in Week 15, the Commanders are one and a half games back. The Commanders must hold on to their half-game advantage over the bubble teams to sail into the NFL postseason. The New York Times has the Commanders at a 41% chance of making the playoffs. The Commanders are 7-6-1 as they look forward to Week 16.
To close the season, the Commanders will play against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns, and the Dallas Cowboys. All three teams are either in contention or have already punched their ticket. The 49ers are only one game behind the Vikings, so they will continue to fight until the end. The Cowboys might be resting their starters in Week 18 since they will clinch the top wild-card spot with a win in Week 16. Finally, the Browns are a long shot at making the playoffs in the AFC, but they will still fight to win.
#8 Seattle Seahawks: Second NFC West, 15th NFL
Outside of the 49ers, the Seahawks are the only remaining NFC West team that is fighting for a spot in the NFL postseason. After losing the last two weeks by a one-score game, they will need a winning streak to keep their playoff hopes alive. This team has been surprising after Seattle sent their elite quarterback to the Denver Broncos. They started Geno Smith, and he’s been playing at an elite level this year, along with rookie running back Ken Walker. The New York Times has the Seahawks at a 27% chance of making the playoffs.
The remaining schedule for Seattle will start with an away game at the Kansas City Chiefs, followed up with two home games against the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams. The Chiefs are competing with the Bills for the first-round bye, and the Jets are still in the AFC hunt. The only easy-ish game will be Week 18 against the Rams, but the Seahawks might be out of the picture by then.
#9 Detroit Lions: Second NFC North, 16th NFL
Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions are contenders once again. This high-scoring team has been competing at a high level this season. With Jared Goff at the helm, this team is set up well for the future, even if they miss out on playoffs this year. The defense continues to excel as pieces are added every season. Defensive end Aiden Hutchinson is in the defensive rookie of the year conversation as he tears through opposing offensive lines. The New York Times has this Lions squad at a 34% chance to make the NFL postseason.
The Lions sit second in the NFC North with a 7-7 record. They must add to their three-game winning streak to close the season by beating the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, and the Green Bay Packers. Two of the remaining three games will be against NFC North opponents. The Bears have already been knocked out of contention, and like the Lions, the Packers are fighting for one of the two remaining wild card slots. The Panthers still have a shot, but winning out at five wins doesn’t guarantee anything.
#10 Green Bay Packers: Third NFC North, 19th NFL
After losing arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers are looking in from the outside for once. The Packers are 6-8 after beating the Rams on Monday Night Football in Week 15. Green Bay needs to win out and get some help from the Giants, the Commanders, and the Seahawks. A lot is on the line this season and in the future, as Aaron Rodgers’ future with Green Bay is on the edge. New York Times has the Packers at a 9% chance of making the playoffs.
The remaining schedule will be challenging for the Packers, and the team will be tested on all fronts. Will Joe Barry’s defense be able to fend off opposing offenses, and will Matt LaFleur’s playcalling help Rodgers and company move the ball downfield? Starting in Week 16, the Packers will travel to Miami to take on the 8-6 Dolphins, who narrowly lost to the Buffalo Bills. After that, two home games against division foes in the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions. Three possible playoff teams will be in the Packers’ way. Will they be able to win out or lose and set their eyes on the NFL draft?
NFC Teams Who Have A Shot With Five Wins
As mentioned previously, the three remaining teams in the hunt are all from the same division. The NFC South is anyone’s game, as all teams are within one game of the lead. The Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and the Atlanta Falcons are all at 5-9. The winner of the NFC South will be the fourth seed in the NFL playoffs. Per the New York Times, here are the chances that these three teams have of making the playoffs. The Panthers have a 19% chance. The Saints have a 4% chance. The Falcons have a 4% chance. So it boils down to the Buccaneers and the Panthers.
Here are the remaining schedules for these three teams. The Panthers will face the Lions, Buccaneers, and Saints. The Saints will face the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Panthers. The Falcons will face the Baltimore Ravens, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Buccaneers. Week 17 between the Panthers and the Buccaneers will be an important game that could very well decide the fate of the NFC South. Week 16 should be competitive, as teams are looking to make a statement and increase their playoff chances.