Sunday, December 13, 2009

Everything You Need to Know About the Last 3 Weeks of the NFL Season (NFC)

Here's my synopsis of what to expect and what's ahead for the NFC contenders. This conference was much easier to do because there were a lot less contenders for the final playoff spots than the AFC.

NFC West: (It all comes down to 1 game....for Arizona. A win in San Francisco tomorrow clinches their 2nd straight NFC West crown and locks up a 1st round home game. The Cards come in at 8-4 while the Niners are 5-7. With the next 2 games against Detroit & St. Louis, Arizona will find a way to win this division if they don't do it on MNF. The Cards have an intriguing final game at home against Green Bay. Why is this so intriguing? There is a chance of these two teams playing in Week 17 then returning to the desert to play a Wild Card Playoff game. We'll get to Green Bay in a little bit but there in a good position to get the #5 seed. For Arizona, they need to keep winning. They need to finish above the NFC East winner (Philly?) and get the #3 seed. There will be a big difference between playing Green Bay or whoever comes out as the #6 seed (Dallas/NYG/Atlanta/SF?). If the Cardinals can somehow catch Minnesota, they would have the tiebreaker for a higher seed. This is unlikely but something to keep in mind if Arizona wins on Monday. They should have no problems with Det and STL, leaving them at 11-4 hypothetically. The Niners are 5-7 and need to win Monday to keep hope alive. The kicker is that the Niners have Philly, Detroit & St. Louis left. A win Monday gets them to 6 wins with 2 more easy ones vs Det & Stl. That leaves a huge Week 15 game in Philly for both teams. The Niners key games are the next two weeks but if they can get to 7-7, they WILL finish 9-7. That may not be enough to get in but right now it puts them in the conversation. I say they lose Monday and Week 15 and will finish 7-9. Seattle fell to 5-8 Sunday and will be watching from home. St. Louis may be the worst team in football with only 1 win and little offense in most of their games. They are my favorite to get the #1 pick.)

NFC South: (New Orleans has a lot to play for the next 3 weeks as well as the 16-0 potential. They need to hold off Minnesota (which can be done by going 2-1 down the stretch). The Saints play Dallas (HUGE game), Tampa Bay & Carolina. Lock them in as the NFC's #1 seed. Atlanta sits at 6-7 with 3 sneaky yet very winnable games remaining. They play NY Jets, Buffalo & Tampa Bay. Their 5-6 conference record doesn't help and neither does their head to head losses to NYG & Dallas, who just happen to be their main rivals for the last playoff spot. Atlanta has to get to 9-7 but that won't be enough if Dallas wins one more game. The Falcons hopes are all but done due to the tiebreakers they will lose in most scenerios. Carolina sits at an ugly 5-8 with no Jake Delhomme and no 1st round pick in 2010. Good luck with that. Tampa Bay has 1 win and won't win another one. It could come down to tiebreakers to determine whether they or St. Louis drafts first.)

NFC North: (Minnesota is in a quite a tough predicament right now as they most likely won't catch New Orleans for the #1 seed yet probably is safe for the #2 seed and a 1st round bye. They have Carolina, Chicago & NY Giants 13 wins and the #2 seed looks good as they will likely rest old man Favre in Week 17. Green Bay is on a hot streak, ending the week at 9-4 & in a good place at the #5 seed. The Packers play Pittsburgh, Seattle & Arizona still so they could drop a couple of games. That may leave them as the #6 seed if they finish 10-6 but I see 2 more wins & a #5 seed date. Chicago is out at 5-8....with a long offseason of questions coming for Jay Cutler. True that they missed Brian Urlacher but Cutler is the league leader in INT's and failed time & again to come up with game winning drives throughout the season. Detroit has 2 wins with only slim hope to get to 3 wins. A top 5 draft pick will help Detroit as they can get a stud defensive player to anchor their line.)

NFC East: (The only interesting division race remaining in the NFC is here. Philly is 9-4, Dallas 8-5, NY Giants 7-6. While this would seem to indicate that Philly is in a good spot, they do have to finish the job. San Francisco, Denver & Dallas remain for the Eagles who could be in trouble by dropping that last game to Dallas. That would give Dallas the head to head tiebreaker and the potential division title if they finish with the same record. Unfortunately for Dallas, they have New Orleans this week followed by a trip to Washington. If Dallas can split these games and get to 9 wins, a wild card berth is a possibility or even a division title if Philly loses their next two. The Giants are playing for the wild card at this point after losing the head to head tiebreaker to Philly. NYG has Washington, Carolina & Minnesota left. With the chance of the Vikings starters not playing much in Week 17, the Giants have to feel that 10-6 is a possibility. That may not win the division but they do own the head to head tiebreaker with Dallas so all they'd have to do is finish with the same record. This is a likely outcome in my mind, giving Philly the division & NYG the #6 seed. Washington has 4 wins and is an incredible disapointment in my opinion. I predicted a 9 win season for them in August. They had the chance to win a few games but lost close games to bad teams early in the season, dooming them to mediocrity.)

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