Who’ll be in and who’ll be left out of the NFC playoffs? It’s the question on everyone’s mind. January is too long to wait for answers. Can the Cardinals catch the Vikings? Will the Cowboys really miss the playoffs again? I reveal the playoff slate before Thanksgiving.
First, allow me to introduce you all to my annual playoff projections. I’ve been doing these for years. It originated from a combination of wondering if the Eagles will get in each year, and having too much time on my hands. Obviously, a lot will change between now and then. I’ve picked the remaining games based upon how I feel about each team RIGHT NOW. If injuries or poor play attack a particular team, the whole chart is thrown off. Therefore, I will update and tweak it each week. It’s understandable if you think it’s too early for playoff projections. In fact, I’d probably agree. However, I get too excited about the playoffs and can’t wait to see how the season plays out, so I do it myself. The Cowboys get the biggest shaft based upon my week 12 playoff projections. Without further ado, here’s how it all broke down.
You can access the chart here.
The great thing about the Vikings and Saints going down the stretch is that they’re only separated by one game. In fact, I think home field advantage could come down to the final week of the season. As you can see, I have both teams losing that final game. Why? Well, the Giants will be desperate for a win and the Panthers will gladly play the role of spoiler for their division rival.
When going through the conference, I was shocked to learn how close the Cardinals can come to topping the Vikings for the 2nd seed. I’m confident the Vikings will drop at least two of their final six games. If the Cardinals can beat Minnesota in week 13, they’ll have a real shot at a first round bye. As of right now, I see them dropping a game to a lesser opponent because their schedule is so weak. It will come before or after the Viking game, so the Vikings will hold onto number two and Arizona will settle for the third seed.
The biggest mix-up occurs in the NFC East. The Giants come storming back to take the division and the Cowboys miss the playoffs altogether due to a tiebreaker. Pay close attention. The Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants all finish 10-6. The Cowboys are eliminated from the division title because their division record (3-3) is worse than New York’s and Philadelphia’s (both 4-2). The Giants then win the NFC East based on a better projected record in common games (Giants 8-4, Eagles 7-5). So the Giants win the division and thus receive the conference’s fourth playoff seed.
The Wildcard gets crazy. The Cowboys, Eagles and Falcons all finish 10-6. When there’s a three team tie that includes two teams from within the same division, you eliminate the lesser of the two division teams. The Cowboys therefore lose out based on division record again. The Eagles would then lose the tiebreaker against Atlanta with a projected head to head loss in week 13. Atlanta gets the NFC’s fifth seed. Philadelphia would then top Dallas for the sixth and final playoff berth. Here’s the devastating part for Dallas. They have an identical record as Atlanta AND beat them head to head, but still miss the playoffs.
There’s still six weeks of football to completely turn these projections upside down. Come back each week for the updated breakdown and be sure to visit tomorrow for the AFC projections.