What teams will make the 2016-17 NFC playoffs will be determined within the next two weeks. We know that the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks are in and that Dallas has home field throughout the NFC postseason. There are four playoff spots left. Those would be the NFC North and South titles and the two wild cards. Here are the teams that still have a viable shot. We’ve started with those that have the best chance and have worked our way down.
New York Giants (10-4)
The Giants have a 90% chance of getting into the playoffs despite their loss to the Eagles this week. They have one more game to play next week when they meet the Redskins. If they win that they are automatically in. If they don’t and finish the season at 10-6, there are four other teams that could end up with that same record. Those would be the Lions and Green Bay in the North and Atlanta and Tampa Bay in the south. Two of those 10-6 clubs would win their division, the other two plus the Giants would end up taking the two wild cards.
What may work against them is that the Giants have been unpredictable and, at times, have had their offense, which is scoring only 19.5 PPG, shut down. They underperformed against the Eagles last week and lost. Plus, the Redskins beat them earlier this season 29-27.
Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
The Falcons, who have an 85% chance of getting to the 2016-17 NFC playoffs, play the Panthers on Carolina and then the Saints in Atlanta. That’s a fairly light schedule and it’s two teams they beat earlier in the season. QB Matt Ryan is having one heck of a year. The Falcons are averaging 33.5 PPG. Finally, they control their own destiny.
Although the Falcons have a PF/PA differential of +111, they are allowing opponents just over 25 PPG. They are going up against two good passing teams. Atlanta has a pretty good pass rush, but their secondary is not as good as they’d like it to be.
Detroit Lions (9-5)
The Lion come to their final two games having posted eight come from behind last minute wins. This is a good team led by a resourceful Matthew Stafford. Their D has improved and is playing sound football and that has helped a lot. This is a team that believes it can win in the waning moments as long as they keep it close. We give them a 78% chance of getting to the postseason.
The Lions have a tough road to go and that could stop them from getting into the 2016-17 NFC playoffs. They have to go to Dallas and play the Cowboys and then they must meet the Packers in Detroit. The Lions have beaten eight teams this year with losing records. The one club they defeated that has a winning record is the Redskins. Now they must play two of the best in the league who are capable of blowing teams away.
Green Bay Packers (8-6)
The Packers have a 68% chance of getting into the postseason. The primary reason is its offense. Aaron Rodgers has been right on target and he’s been running the offense with aplomb. He’s got a deep unit of receivers and, somehow, the Pack now has a bit of a rush attack. Green Bay does have confidence associated with their four-game winning streak.
There are two problems for the Packers. The first is the defense. Yes, they have been playing much better lately, but they’ve had their moments. As an example, last week against the Bears, they suddenly gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter letting Chicago in the door. The other problem is Aaron Rodger’s injury. A few bad hits could knock him out of a game, and he is essential to this team’s success.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6)
We’re giving the Bucs a 47% chance of getting to the postseason. They have a great defense that can manufacture turnovers. They play the Saints and Panthers, two teams they have already beaten and against whom they forced seven turnovers total. Tampa Bay had won seven straight before they lost to Dallas last week.
There are various problems, including that one tie they have which may help or hurt them. The offense has struggled. The offensive line has to give QB Jameis Winston time to pass. This can be a big problem in their final game against Carolina.
Washington Redskins (7-6-1)
The Redskins may end up being the team that could have but did not. The club, which has a 26% of making it to the playoffs, has a fine offense, which is run by the very competent Kirk Cousins, and an effective defense.
They will have a tough time getting into the playoffs for various reasons. First, is their schedule where they have to play two solid defensive teams, the Bears and the Giants. Plus, their defense can often miss the big play.
2016-17 NFC Playoffs Almost Here
There’s far less competition for the final four playoff spots in the NFC than in the AFC. The AFC has seven teams battling for four slots, while the NFC has six looking to be seeded in four slots. The entire West Division has been eliminated from the wild card. That has helped to cut back on the number of teams that have a real shot at the postseason. Much of this could be decided by the end of week 16. We’ll see as the 2016-17 NFC playoffs approach.