Entering Week 16, several NFC teams still have a chance to make the playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons have already locked up the NFC North and South. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are fighting for the NFC West crown, though both look like they’ll at least win a wild card spot.
The second wild card and sixth and final postseason spot, though, is very much up for grabs. Five teams are tied at 8-6 with a chance to grab the sixth seed.
The Washington Redskins, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings are all looking to reach the playoffs and have a chance of making a Super Bowl run. There are many possible scenarios, and each team has a chance to play beyond Week 17.
Washington, New York and Dallas have two routes in the postseason, as they are all still looking to win the NFC title, which has yet to be decided. They may be fighting for two spots, but all three teams control their own playoff destinies.
The Redskins may be the most likely team to secure a postseason berth. The Redskins division record gives them the tiebreaker, putting them in first place. They have the easiest remaining schedule of the NFC East teams. Washington will visit the 4-10 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and close out the year by hosting the Cowboys.
If Dallas wins their Week 16 matchup, their game with Washington in Week 17 will determine the division winner. It won’t be as easy for the Cowboys to get to nine wins. They are scheduled to host the New Orleans Saints this week.
New York’s 2-3 division record currently puts them in third place in the NFC East and ninth in the conference. However, they’ll have a chance to defend their Super Bowl title if they win out. The Giants have the best conference record of all the aforementioned potential wild card teams, though they lose a tiebreaker in the division to both the Redskins and Cowboys.
The Giants will visit the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. If they can get by them, New York will just have to beat Philadelphia at home in Week 17. Even though the Giants are on the road and were just blown out by the Atlanta Falcons, they are 2.5-point favorites against the Ravens.
Minnesota currently holds the second wild card berth, but they might be the least likely of the group to make the playoffs. They have the toughest schedule down the stretch, and it’d be considered an upset if they won either game. The Vikings will visit the Houston Texans and host the Packers in their last two games.
Even though they are already in the playoffs, both teams have incentive to keep winning. Houston is looking to secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Green Bay is attempting to get one of the top two seeds in the NFC.
Chicago is the only team of the bunch that will play two losing teams to close out the season. The Bears will visit the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals, who have just nine total wins. However, Chicago has lost five of its last six, and won’t win the tiebreaker over New York or Minnesota if each team wins its final two.
All of the possible scenarios should make for an exciting final two weeks of the 2012 NFL regular season.