Monday, November 21, 2011

NFC Playoff Picture Week 12

Week 11 isn't completely over yet, but it is for the NFC. Their were two major headlines from yesterday's NFC teams: the Giants falling to the depleted Eagles and the Chicago Bears losing Jay Cutler for the rest of the regular season. Both stories affect the rest of the season drastically, as the Bears looked great in their victory against the Chargers and the Giants gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope. Last week I had 9 teams in the NFC competing for the 6 playoff spots, but Tampa Bay's comeback hopes fell short against the undefeated Packers. Tampa Bay is out in my books, leaving eight real possibilities.

I will not be listing the toughest remaining opponents this week, but if you click on each team name, it will direct you to their team page on ESPN.

Note: As I said last week, the teams are ranked based on their likelihood to make the playoffs. Each percentage takes into consideration the remaining schedule, % chance of winning division, and % chance of a wild card spot.

1. Green Bay Packers (10-0) - The Packers held on against the Bucs and the offense looked great in doing so. The defense is a little suspect, giving up a lot of opportunities to an anemic Buccaneer offense. This team is still the best, but it'll be a tough road to the Superbowl.

Chances of making playoffs: 100%

2. San Francisco 49ers (9-1) - The Niners can officially clinch the division next week with a win and Seattle loss. San Francisco is in great position to get at least the #2 seed in the playoffs, which will give them a bye in the first round. If Green Bay loses, the 49ers could push for the top spot.

Chances of making playoffs: 100%

3. New Orleans Saints (7-3) - New Orleans had a bye this week and their playoff prospects took a small hit because of the Falcons victory. The Saints have proven they can win big games and they have a few of them coming up soon. They must take care of business against the Falcons in Week 16, which will basically give them the division.

Chances of making playoffs: 95%

4. Chicago Bears (7-3) - I wanted to move the Bears down just because of Cutler's broken thumb, but just take a look at their schedule. They should be fine with Caleb Hanie behind center, as they will focus on getting Matt Forte the ball. Hanie will need to limit mistakes and play it safe. He showed us last season in the NFC Championship game that he can play, but he doesn't have to be a hero. The Bears are the favorites in 5 of their remaining 6 games and if they go 4-2, they'll be just fine.

Chances of making playoffs: 90%

5. Dallas Cowboys (6-4) - Here's the first change in the playoff picture compared to last week. The Cowboys were able to survive a scare from Washington as Graham Gano missed a 52 yarder in overtime giving the Cowboys' Dan Bailey an opportunity to win the game with a 39 yard field goal. It was a big win for the Cowboys, who play in three days against the Dolphins at home. Miami is hot, so it won't be an easy game.

Chances of making playoffs: 70%

6. Detroit Lions (7-3) - The Lions had another huge comeback against the Panthers, as they ended up with 49 points (35 coming in the 2nd half). Detroit had to win that game, so credit Matthew Stafford and company for coming up big when they were down early to Carolina. The schedule is not on their side, but the Lions should be fine if they get to 10-6.

Chances of making playoffs: 50%

7. New York Giants (6-4) - The loss last night was inexcusable. The Eagles were without their best player (Michael Vick) and best receiver (Jeremy Maclin). The Giants cannot win games if the put up just 10 points. Their defense is good and held the Eagles in check most of the night, but the offense needs to do better than they did yesterday. The Giants play the Saints and Packers in the next two weeks. A split would be a great result, putting them in position again in the division. If they lose both, they will likely go to Dallas down at least 1 game, maybe even 2.

Chances of making playoffs: 50%

8. Atlanta Falcons (6-4) - Atlanta must get to 10-6 in order to think about the Wild Card and probably 11-5 for the NFC South. Beating the Titans was a good start and the schedule is very favorable. Atlanta has a realistic shot at the playoffs, but they cannot afford to lose many more games.

Chances of making playoffs: 43%

Those are my remaining 8 playoff contenders. As you notice, there's a little bit of probability left which will be distributed to the new 9th place Playoff Picture team.

9. Philadelphia (2%) - Really helped their chances with a win versus the Giants, but they must win out. Their hopes rely heavily on what happens next week against New England. A win there and then we'll talk about moving them up to the "contender list", but for now they're safe here.
10. Tampa Bay
11. Seattle
12. Washington
13. Arizona
14. Minnesota
15. Carolina
16. St. Louis

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