The Packers and 49ers are division champions. The Saints have a commanding two game lead in the NFC South.
The teams above figure to be the top three seeds in the NFC. After that, we essentially have five teams fighting for three spots, which includes the NFC East division title.
10 wins should get you in to the NFC playoffs this year. At this point, it’s quite possible that a 9-7 team gets into the playoffs. That means the Cardinals or Seahawks, both 5-7, could still hang around in the unlikely event that they won out. (The two teams face off in Week 17, so they can’t both win out.)
Three NFC hopefuls have come back to the pack dramatically:
Chicago: The Bears looked like one of the best teams in football with Jay Cutler. With Caleb Hanie, they are 0-2 coming off a home loss to Kansas City. They have two tough road games left. They might not get to nine wins, much less ten. Their collapse opens up the door for others.
Detroit: The Lions have lost five of seven games, but the Bears’ collapse could save them. Home games against the Vikings and Chargers are manageable. Unless the Lions can pull off an upset in Green Bay, getting to a 10th win could depend on a trip to Oakland.
New York Giants: Big Blue has lost four in a row, but they have two games left against division leading Dallas. They remain very much in the wild card mix considering a 9-7 team might make it.
Atlanta and Dallas have been playing better of late, but they both lost on Sunday as road favorites. Based on the schedules remaining, the Falcons and Cowboys have the easiest paths to the playoffs. Atlanta faces three teams well under .500 (Carolina, Jacksonville, and Tampa Bay), in addition to a road game in New Orleans.
My hunch is that Dallas and Atlanta find a way in. That would mean that one of the three teams in freefall listed in bold above should still make it.
We have a month left to find out which team will collapse the least.