With five weeks left in the regular season, five NFC teams should be feeling pretty comfortable about their chances of making the playoffs.
The 49ers, Saints, Packers, Seahawks and Vikings are all at least two games up on their closest competitors for playoff spots and, barring total collapse, it shouldn’t be long before some of those teams are clinching berths in the postseason. Where they’ll all stack up once the playoffs arrive remains in some doubt, however, and the final weeks will set the seeding for January.
The outlier to the separation of powers is in the NFC East, where the Eagles and Cowboys both remain alive for a division title.
Here’s how the entire conference shapes up after Week 12:
1. 49ers (10-1) Can their defense stop Lamar Jackson? If not, we could have a new No. 1 team in the NFC next week.
2. Saints (9-2) Survived the Panthers to essentially sew up the NFC South and they get their shot at the Niners in Week 14.
3. Packers (8-3) A second loss in three games keeps the Vikings right on top of them in the NFC North.
4. Cowboys (6-5) They fizzled in New England to keep hope alive for the Eagles.
5. Seahawks (9-2) Monday night’s game against the Vikings will be a big part of the seeding game.
6. Vikings (8-3) They should be well rested for Seattle after their Week 12 bye.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Rams (6-5) Eight turnovers in the last three games are one of the reasons why it’s hard to believe the Rams can right the ship in December.
8. Bears (5-6) The good news is that they got a win and have the Lions on deck. The bad news is the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings are their final four opponents.
9. Eagles (5-6) It’s been a rough year, but the schedule shows the Dolphins, Giants and Washington in the next three weeks so the division title probably isn’t running away from them.
10. Panthers (5-6) They may have lost even if Joey Slye made a 28-yard field goal, but it’s all the more painful that he did.
11. Buccaneers (4-7) Running the table would get them a winning season, but they haven’t won two straight games all year.
12. Lions (3-7-1) They’ll try to avoid a winless November against the Bears on Thanksgiving.
13. Cardinals (3-7-1) They can help spoil the season for the Rams this week.
14. Falcons (3-8) Atlanta reverted to form after a two-game winning streak.
15. Giants (2-9) Pat Shurmur is now 17-43 as an NFL head coach.
16. Washington (2-9) Selfies with Dwayne Haskins are all the rage these days.