Three quarters down, one to go.
That’s the amount of season gone and the amount yet to come for NFL teams.
With that, the playoff picture is beginning to piece together, and it’s time to dissect that image and speculate who’s in and who’s out. Here is the current slate:
*Note: Standings as of Sunday 12/12019, not accounting for MIN @ SEA
- San Francisco 49ers (10-2)
- New Orleans Saints (10-2)
- Green Bay Packers (9-3)
- Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
- Seattle Seahawks (9-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-3)
And here are the teams in the hunt:
- Los Angeles Rams (7-5)
- Chicago Bears (6-6)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
When looking at the Eagles it’s important to remember that they are still very much alive to win the NFC East, which would give them an automatic bid to the playoffs. The Chicago Bears pretty much need to win out in order to have a shot, and still may not make it. With a brutal schedule (vs. Cowboys, at Green Bay, vs. Chiefs, at Minnesota), it is hard to see them sneaking in, but crazier things have happened. They own tiebreakers over the Vikings. The Los Angeles Rams currently own the tiebreaker over the Bears and are closer to the Vikings. They are the clear favorite to get in if either current wild card slips out.
The 49ers just suffered a close defeat at Baltimore, but own the tiebreaker over Green Bay. They have lost to the Seahawks once and will face them once more in Seattle before the season’s end. The Saints own the tiebreaker over the Seahawks and Cowboys and will play the 49ers soon. Green Bay owns tiebreakers over Dallas, Chicago and Minnesota (will play each once more), and have a favorable schedule coming up. Dallas has upcoming matchups at Chicago, vs. Rams, and at Philly. They currently own tiebreakers against Philly. Seattle is right in the mix for the NFC West crown, and have the upper hand on SF with their road win against them. Sunday’s 49ers loss puts them in position to take the division lead Monday night vs. Vikings. Minnesota is hanging on to that sixth seed and own tiebreakers against Philly and Dallas.
Personally, I think we see two changes in the top six (the only six that really matter in the end): the Seahawks overtaking San Francisco for the NFC West crown, and the Eagles getting past the Cowboys for the NFC East championship. The 49ers have played three legitimate teams all year. In those three games, they have one overtime loss (vs. Seahawks), one last-second loss (@ Baltimore), and one blowout win (vs. Packers). These three games tell us that the 49ers can hang with anybody, but can they finish? That is my question. The one game they did win was against the least capable of those three teams. Weak defense and average offensive line. Even the Seahawks don’t have an elite defense or a great offensive line. That’s why I like the Seahawks over them.
The Eagles’ remaining schedule consists of four divisional games, the Giants twice, the Redskins, and the Cowboys in Philly. Look, Dallas is very talented. Jason Garrett is just a horrible football coach. Philly wins out and finds a way to get in yet again.
With that being said, here are my final playoff picture projections:
- New Orleans Saints (14-2)
- Seattle Seahawks (14-2)
- Green Bay Packers (12-4)
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
- San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (11-5)