With the Thanksgiving Day games in the books, the NFC playoff picture has gotten a shakeup.
First, let’s take a look at the winners:
— With their rout of Dallas, the Eagles (9-3) moved one game ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East. For the moment, the Eagles are the No. 2 seed in the NFC, though they would lose their spot if Green Bay beats New England on Sunday.
— The Lions (8-4) have slid into the final wild-card spot after dispatching of Chicago.
— The Seahawks (8-4) moved up from No. 6 to No. 5 in the NFC after knocking off San Francisco. Why does this matter? The No. 5 seed is very likely to draw the NFC South winner in Round One.
Now, on to the losers:
— The Cowboys (8-4) fell from the No. 5 to the No. 7 seed on account of a good-but-not-great NFC record (5-4). This knocked them out of a three-way tiebreaker with Detroit and Seattle (see below).
— The 49ers (7-5) are now a game behind Seattle, Detroit and Dallas in the wild-card standings. With the defeat to the Seahawks, the Niners are now 1-3 in division play, with Seattle and Arizona having chances to sweep the season series in December.
— The Bears (5-7) are just about out of wild-card contention, though December home games against Dallas, New Orleans and Detroit will all have general NFC playoff ramifications.
Finally, let’s close with a few words on the Cowboys, who are suddenly quite vulnerable. Three of their final four games are on the road, with their lone home contest vs. AFC South-leading Indianapolis.
Dallas desperately needs to regain its footing with a win at Chicago next Thursday night. But can the Cowboys get it done? They are just 3-3 since upsetting Seattle in October, and they were outgained 464-267 by Philadelphia in the 33-10 loss on Thursday. The Bears’ offense isn’t exactly thriving at the moment, but it does have the skill-position talent to challenge Dallas.
Here’s a look at how the NFC’s playoff teams and primary playoff contenders would be seeded after Thursday’s games. The NFL’s tie-breaking rules and standings are referenced.
THE BIG SIX
1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2, .818). NFC West leader. Earn first-round bye, home-field advantage.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-3, .750). NFC East leader. Earn first-round bye.
3. Green Bay Packers (8-3, .727). NFC North leader. Host Lions in wild-card round.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-7, .364). NFC South leader. NFC South’s top-seeded team on basis of head-to-head win vs. New Orleans. Host Seahawks in wild-card round.
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4, .667). Wild card No. 1. Seeded ahead of Detroit on basis of better record in common games.
6. Detroit Lions (8-4, .667). Wild card No. 2. Seeded ahead of Dallas on basis of better conference record (6-2 vs. 5-4).
7. Dallas Cowboys (8-4, .667.).
8. San Francisco 49ers (7-5, .583).
THE REST OF THE NFC SOUTH
10. New Orleans Saints (4-7, .364).
13. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1, .318).
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9, .182).