Redskins and Vikings up, Bears and Giants down in NFL playoff race

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With two weeks remaining in the NFL season, the Redskins and Vikings are in surprisingly good shape in the NFC playoff race, while losses suffered by the Bears and Giants on Sunday raised big questions about whether they can still limp into the playoffs.

Below we provide the state of the playoff race, with the six playoff teams that would be in the postseason in each conference if the playoffs started today.

NFC

1. Falcons (12-2): Atlanta only needs to win one more game to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

2. 49ers (10-3-1): San Francisco put a beating on New England and stayed ahead of Green Bay for the first-round playoff bye.

3. Packers (10-4): Green Bay clinched the NFC North with Sunday’s win at Chicago.

4. Redskins (8-6): Washington is one of the hottest teams in the NFL and is now has the tiebreaker edge in the three-way NFC East battle.

5. Seahawks (9-5): Two straight blowout wins have the Seahawks looking like perhaps the most dangerous team in the NFL.

6. Vikings (8-6): If the playoffs started today, the Vikings would be in. But the Vikings’ final two games are against the Texans and Packers, which means Minnesota still has an uphill battle to reach the postseason.

In the mix: The 8-6 Cowboys and 8-6 Giants are both on the outside looking in right now, but they both control their playoff destiny: Win their final two games, and they’re both in. The 8-6 Bears do not control their playoff destiny, but the good news for Chicago is that the Bears have the easiest remaining schedule of any of the playoff contenders, with the Cardinals and Lions in the final two weeks. So don’t count the Bears out.

AFC

1. Texans (12-2): The Texans have clinched the NFC South and are close to clinching home-field advantage. The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC is going through Houston.

2. Broncos (11-3): Denver moved a game ahead of New England and now needs two more wins to earn a first-round playoff bye.

3. Patriots (10-4): Sunday night’s loss to the 49ers moves the Patriots below the Broncos in the AFC.

4. Ravens (9-5): Baltimore has clinched a playoff berth, but the Ravens aren’t playing like a playoff team. If they don’t turn things around in a hurry, the Ravens will be one-and-done.

5. Colts (9-5): Indianapolis hasn’t actually clinched, but there are very few scenarios left under which the Colts don’t get to the playoffs.

6. Bengals (8-6): Cincinnati is now the leader of the pack for the final AFC playoff berth, but the Bengals must win at Pittsburgh next week if they want to stay head of the pack.

In the mix: The 7-7 Steelers still control their playoff destiny: Beat the Bengals and Browns the next two weeks, and they’re in. And the 6-7 Jets aren’t out of it; if they win out and Sunday’s Bengals-Steelers winner loses in Week 17, the Jets would go to the playoffs.

50 responses to “Redskins and Vikings up, Bears and Giants down in NFL playoff race

  1. Obviously HOU will get one of the byes. I would love to see another Brady vs. Manning playoff battle. The winner of that game is going to be the AFC rep in the SB.

  2. Giants are a streaky team and don’t deserve a playoff spot at this point..

    But IMO I think only the Giants would have had a shot at a deep playoff run. I doubt Washington or Dallas will make much noise in the postseason.

  3. I hope the Lions can at least show up for the Bears game. At least before today they were the toughest team you knew you would probably beat but that was humiliating to watch as a fan.

  4. The NFC East and AFC North are similar divisions, and should make for some exciting games down the stretch. If the Giants lose one more game the final game of the season is all that really matters between Dallas and Washington. The winner is in and the loser is out.

  5. Vikings are hot with AP running wild, last wild card spot will be a dog fight to the last game of season…Bears has the easiest schedule, but anything can happen in these last 2 weeks.

  6. Speaking of which, the winner of the Manning – Brady regular season has gone on to reach the Super Bowl (Manning twice, Brady 4 — if you include last season) with the exception being the 2005 and 2010 meetings.

    Might need to fact check this though.

  7. I do count the Bears out.

    But the Giants BETTER win both of those games, because if they lose to the only offense that looks worse than the Cardinals’ (Ravens) and a team full of quitters and ravaged by injuries in the Eagles, then they don’t DESERVE to make the playoffs.

  8. Correction: The road to the AFC playoffs will go through Denver unless they lose the divisional round to New England. Texans are good, but are inconsistent.

  9. Doesn’t the tie breaker for teams in different divisions for wild card go by head to head, then conference record? The NFL.com site says this so why are the Vikings ahead of the Giants? What am I missing?

  10. thekiller678 says: Dec 17, 2012 12:12 AM

    Giants are a streaky team and don’t deserve a playoff spot at this point..

    But IMO I think only the Giants would have had a shot at a deep playoff run. I doubt Washington or Dallas will make much noise in the postseason.
    —————

    As a Giants fan, I have no problem with this statement. Although the “don’t deserve a playoff spot” line can wait a week. If they lose to reeling Baltimore or shattered Philadelphia, then I would agree 1,000%.

  11. Atl is going to surprise everyone this year. Mike Nolan is a very underrated DC and Dirk Cutter is proving to be a better fit than Mularky was. Mularky was always too predictable with his play-calling. It’s gonna be interesting.

  12. Not sure what ‘mix’ the Bears are in, even less sure it matters…From what I’ve read, the Bears are currently the 7th. seed, right behind MN and ahead of Dallas and Washington…I imagine in that case, the Bears must win out, and hope that MN loses at least once, to jump back into the 6th. and final spot. If the Bears are currently ahead of Dallas by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker, in what scenario would Dallas get in if both teams win out?

  13. The fact that the JETS! At 6-7 are still in the playoff hunt shows how pathetic the AFC has been this year (minus Hou,Den, and NE)

  14. So why is RGIII whining like a little girl instead of congratulating Cousins and the team. Yeah, I know he’s a competitor and all but first thing he should be saying is how great it is the Redskins won this game.

    Instead, he selfishly bitches.

    Sign of future problems?

  15. The road to the Super Bowl may be going through Houston but the Texans won’t be making the trip.

    With Denver now holding the second seed and no longer spotting teams 21-0 leads, the Broncos will be the AFC Champions.

    Sorry Houston. So close and yet so far. Maybe next year huh?

  16. I hope the Lions can at least show up for the Bears game. At least before today they were the toughest team you knew you would probably beat but that was humiliating to watch as a fan.
    ———–

    Nobody cares about the Lions

  17. Bengals control their own destiny. Must beat Pitt on Sunday. Not to mention they also can still win the division if the Ravens lose 2 and Bengals win 2. C’mon Dalton, prove your an AFC North qb. He’s 0-6 so far in his young career against these 2 teams. Time for that to change.

  18. Rather bizarre circumstances to see the Giants have every game that affected them go against them. Atlanta, Green Bay, San Fran, Washington, Seattle, Minnesota, and Dallas all win… knocking the Giants from a division lead with a chance to move up in seeds (having beaten GB and SF already, and a win against ATL would have helped) to the outside looking in. They’re now in the exact same spot as last year – win the final two just to get in.

  19. The Jets don’t need both the Bengals and Steelers to finish 8-8…only Pittsburgh. The Jets win a head to head against Cincy if both teams finish 9-7 because of a better conference record.

  20. How do the Giants control their own destiny? If the Redskins win out, they win the East. So that’s out. Right now you’re saying the Vikings hold the tie breaker over them as well. So if the Vikings beat the Texans and Packers, wouldn’t they still be ahead of the Giants?

  21. IDK bout yall but im focusing on the redskins winning out. the rest will evolve, i know if my team wins out, we r IN. #httr

  22. Typical Giants – either blow people out or get blown out. Don’t play consistently till they’re backs are completely flat up against the wall. The NFC East will not be decided till we see who wins the Wash/Dallas game in week 17. Note to Giants: Uh now would be a good time to start getting consistent! Please!

  23. I don’t see the Vikings beating Houston and Denver, even though AP is the MVP in my opinion. And the Bears look to be falling apart, but have two easy games to finish out. With that said the Giants don’t control their own destiny anymore, they have to win out and hope someone loses. The Redskins and Cowboys game in week 17 will be a huge one, and will ultimately decide everything in the NFC playoff picture. Redskins are playing light out and the D has stepped up a lot since the bye, I wouldn’t want to face them in the playoffs. Either way I’m proud to be a Skins fan and this team is on the rise.

  24. the vikings can beat the texans and they dont play denver its the packers at home and I can see them possibly beating them also.
    The vikings deserve to be where they are, just wish they had harvin, would be in a better spot I think, AP is putting in over 100% in his games

  25. @vikingfan1971

    Sorry, meant Green Bay not Denver. And I would agree they could win out, but AP can’t do it himself against Hou, and I don’t see Ponder being able to do anything. Peterson has played lights out, like I said he should be MVP but they have no passing game. I think they may win one or the other but I can’t see them winning both. On another note, the season AP has had after coming back from that injury, you have to start the talks of maybe the best back in history.

  26. jschwanny says: Dec 17, 2012 7:37 AM

    The Jets don’t need both the Bengals and Steelers to finish 8-8…only Pittsburgh. The Jets win a head to head against Cincy if both teams finish 9-7 because of a better conference record.

    That won’t come in to play. Jets will lose tonight to the Titans and be out of the picture.

  27. glennsyank13 says: Dec 17, 2012 12:44 AM

    Doesn’t the tie breaker for teams in different divisions for wild card go by head to head, then conference record? The NFL.com site says this so why are the Vikings ahead of the Giants? What am I missing?
    ————–

    You’re not missing anything. As of right now, the Vikings are ahead because of the tiebreaker involving Dallas and Chicago. By virtue of the final NFC game for the Giants (vs. PHI), if they win it, they will have an 8-4 conference record. And presuming that they finish tied at 9-7 or 10-6, the Giants would have the tiebreaker over all of the contenders for that last spot, because no one else seeking a wild card spot can have an 8-4 record in the NFC. Only Washington can, but if they go 8-4 (i.e. winning out) they would win the NFC East anyway.

  28. rtant2013 says: Dec 17, 2012 11:17 AM

    I don’t see the Vikings beating Houston and Denver, even though AP is the MVP in my opinion. And the Bears look to be falling apart, but have two easy games to finish out. With that said the Giants don’t control their own destiny anymore, they have to win out and hope someone loses. The Redskins and Cowboys game in week 17 will be a huge one, and will ultimately decide everything in the NFC playoff picture. Redskins are playing light out and the D has stepped up a lot since the bye, I wouldn’t want to face them in the playoffs. Either way I’m proud to be a Skins fan and this team is on the rise.
    ————-

    For the final time, the Giants win out and they are in. Whether it is NFC East champion or not depends on whether Washington loses once or twice. If Washington wins out, they win the NFC East. If the Giants win out as well, they would have the 6 seed and go to (likely) Green Bay.

  29. It would be very interesting if the Packers in the final week had a”choice” as to whether the Bears or Vikings got the #6 seed.

  30. I wonder how much of a difference it will make in the Vikings chances that the Texans and Packers have already clinched their playoff spots. ie. resting key players to avoid injuries.

  31. ” If the Bears are currently ahead of Dallas by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker, in what scenario would Dallas get in if both teams win out?”

    If Dallas wins out they win the NFC East with a 10-6 record by virtue of a better record (if the Giants lose one of their last two) or by a better divisional record (if the Giants win both of their last two). Dallas winning out means the Redskins can be 9-7 at best since they play Dallas in the last week.

  32. East coast bias. Seattle is the third best team in the NFC and should be favored to beat the 49’ers at home on Sunday night. They already beat the Packers and have a better record and are hotter than the Skins.

  33. I think the Giants amply demonstrated last year that the playoffs are a whole new season. The team that best fully understands this truth will have the best chance to win, because even the most talented team can be beaten given the right circumstances, coaching, and motivation. I don’t think the Giants have unlearned this, but now is the time to show it. Personally, I’m rooting for another darkhorse to step up, and there seem to be a plethora of interesting contenders. The Seahawks indeed look dangerous, but again, that’s the “first” season. A repeat of the Green Bay game in the playoffs is unlikely to go their way, particularly on the road. Redskins and Colts also have talented rookie QB’s that could make noise, and cement their place in history. Already looking forward to a great “second” season.

  34. How is it that the Vikings are in the wildcard now but if they win out and the Giants win out, the Giants are in? Everyone keeps saying because of the conference record but they both have one in and one out conference left so that shouldn’t change anything. I don’t get it…

  35. The two teams that have beaten the Texans this year have done so with elite QB play. Doesn’t say much for the Vikings chances against them no matter how great AP is.

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