The NFC playoff picture has become a more clear. The Green Bay Packers gave many fans a scare this weekend at the end of the Browns game. Had Cleveland just run the ball instead of putting it in Baker Mayfield’s hands, would could be talking about a very different outcome. Nevertheless, Green Bay remains on top of the NFC and per playoffstatus.com, they have an 89% chance to remain the number one seed. Green Bay’s next game is against another division rival, Minnesota. Minnesota had some good and bad news break this week. Adam Thielen was placed on season ending IR with an ankle injury. Dalvin Cook, however, was activated off the COVID reserve list. The Cook news is likely a much bigger deal given the Packers’ porous run defense. Nevertheless, take a look at the current playoff matchups and who still has a fighting chance to make the playoffs.
Current Playoff Bracket
#1 Green Bay Packers – Bye
#2 Dallas Cowboys vs #7 Philadelphia Eagles
#3 Los Angeles Rams vs #6 San Francisco 49ers
#4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs #5 Arizona Cardinals
This is a bit of a shake up from a few weeks ago. Tampa Bay is hurting right now after losing Chris Godwin to an ACL injury, Leonard Fournette to a hamstring injury, and Mike Evans to a hamstring injury, too. Dallas jumped to the two seed. Dak and the offense put a whooping on a depleted WFT, but maybe that is all the confidence they needed to make a deep playoff run. It’s also worth nothing that the NFC West has 3 teams — Cardinals, Rams, and 49ers — almost guaranteed to make the playoffs. Playing a team for the third time makes the playoffs much more exciting.
For the Packers, they still control their own destiny. Their remaining games are against the Vikings and Lions. Run the table and they will keep the number 1 seed, have a first round bye, and the NFC will go through Lambeau.
Still in the Hunt
The final remaining NFC playoff spot is a three horse race between the Vikings, Eagles, and Saints. The Vikings have by far the hardest schedule. Statistically, the Saints have the easiest remaining schedule.
Minnesota has an 88% chance to miss the playoffs. They travel to Green Bay this week where the temperature is expected to be in single digits. As I mentioned above, Adam Thielen has been placed on season ending IR but Dalvin Cook does return. Cook’s conditioning may be affected which Green Bay’s defense won’t complain about. The Packers’ defense has given up significant rushing yards since the bye week.
The Eagles continue to pound the rock and beat teams up physically. Two weeks ago, I predicted that the Eagles would snap the final playoff spot from the Vikings. The Eagles play the WFT who they just beat two weeks prior. Anticipating that they take care of business again, all eyes will be on the final week of the season when the Eagles play the Cowboys. The Cowboys game could have major playoff implications. This storyline will be one to monitor because the two teams may have a chance to meet first round of the playoffs as well.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have a 34% chance to make the playoffs based on their schedule and rightfully so. Their final two games are against Carolina and Atlanta. The Saints’ season is likely riding on the status of either Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian coming off the reserve COVID list. Sean Payton didn’t seem himself either during Ian Book’s first start. Could this be because Drew Brees didn’t want to come out of retirement?
I will stand by my initial prediction that the Eagles will manage to secure the seven seed for the playoffs. Obviously, injuries and COVID are going to factor into the final standings, but with everything happening right now, they are poised to win right now!