There’s a new team atop the NFC West and a new team holding down the No. 1 seed in the conference as we head into the final four weeks of the regular season.
Wins by the Saints last Thursday night and the Seahawks on Monday night coupled with the 49ers’ loss in Baltimore means that the Niners are now looking up at both teams after holding down their spot at the top for the first three months of the season.
That’s the most significant change to the way things are shaping up in the NFC. Here’s how the entire playoff picture looks with Week 13 in the books:
1. Saints(10-2) They’ve clinched the NFC South and a win over the 49ers at home this week will cement their spot at the top of the conference.
2. Seahawks (10-2) Monday’s win was their fifth in a row and they’ll be in first as long as the wins keep coming.
3. Packers (9-3) The Packers are at home the next two weeks before a Week 16 road date with the Vikings that could settle the NFC North.
4. Cowboys (6-6) They missed another opportunity to strengthen their hold on the NFC East and they’ll get another one Thursday in Chicago.
5. 49ers (10-2) They’ll have to adjust from being chased to being the chaser over the final weeks of the season.
6. Vikings (8-4) Head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday’s loss wasn’t the end of the world and they can right their ship against the reeling Lions this week.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Rams (7-5) The offense finally came to life against Arizona; Can they get the same production against the Seahawks this week?
8. Bears (6-6) Beating the Lions keeps some hope alive, but a loss to the Cowboys would all but extinguish it.
9. Buccaneers (5-7) While they keep fighting and the schedule isn’t overly daunting, the Bucs likely dug themselves too deep a hole.
10. Eagles (5-7) As long as the Cowboys keep losing, the Eagles have a chance to snatch the NFC East if they can figure out how to win a few games.
11. Panthers (5-7) The playoffs would have been a long shot with a win over Washington and now they’re a pipe dream.
12. Washington (3-9) They can’t earn a Wild Card, but could still win the NFC East.
13. Lions (3-8-1) David Blough didn’t look overmatched in his NFL debut, although it still added up to another loss for the Lions.
14. Cardinals (3-8-1) Arizona’s given up at least 400 yards in each of the last five games and nine times overall this season.
15. Falcons (3-9) They’ve reverted to form the last two weeks and that’s probably not good news for head coach Dan Quinn.
16. Giants (2-10) If Andy Dalton can dial up another win or two in Cincinnati, the Giants may be on the clock the second the regular season ends.