We’ve reached the second-half of the 2017 NFL season, so it’s really time to ramp up playoff positioning talk. The Seattle Seahawks’ incredible win over the Houston Texans last week means they are currently among the NFL’s division leaders, and they are very much in the hunt for the #1 seed.
Here’s what the NFC playoff picture looks like:
NFC Playoff Standings
#1 - Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)
#2 - Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
#3 - New Orleans Saints (5-2)
#4 - Seattle Seahawks (5-2)
#5 - Los Angeles Rams (5-2)
#6 - Carolina Panthers (5-3)
#7 - Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
#8 - Green Bay Packers (4-3)
#9 - Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
#10 - Detroit Lions (3-4)
#11 - Washington Redskins (3-4)
#12 - Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
#13 - Chicago Bears (3-5)
#14 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)
#15 - New York Giants (1-6)
#16 - San Francisco 49ers (0-8)
The Vikings are off this week, so the Seahawks can equal Minnesota’s record with a win against Washington on Sunday. Don’t quote me on this, but the conference record tiebreakers would be even under this scenario, so the next tiebreaker would be records vs. common opponents, and Minnesota has the edge on the basis of their win over the Green Bay Packers.
Atop the NFC and indeed the NFL are the Philadelphia Eagles. They’ll be hosting the Denver Broncos, who have turned to Brock Osweiler due to Trevor Siemian’s poor showings. Denver’s defense is doing as much as it can, but that passing offense is all sorts of rotten, so the odds of a Denver road win seem unlkely.
The New Orleans Saints have a superior conference record than Seattle (4-1 vs. 3-1), and they have a home game against the deeply disappointing 2-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Well uh... it’s a divisional matchup, so weird things can happen?
As for the wild card spots, the Los Angeles Rams play a 10 AM game at the New York Giants, who suspended former Rams CB Janoris Jenkins for disciplinary reasons. I’m struggling to find a reason to believe the Giants can spring a surprise result. If they can do so, then that’s great news for the Seahawks. Meanwhile, the 5-3 Carolina Panthers take on the 4-3 Atlanta Falcons in a key divisional rivalry showdown. I believe that an Atlanta win benefits the Seahawks more, as the Panthers currently have just a 3-3 record vs. NFC teams, and they don’t play Seattle this season. The Seahawks can take care of their Falcons tiebreaker when they play each other on November 20th.
Rounding things out for teams on the outside looking in, the Dallas Cowboys play the 6-2 Kansas City Chiefs in the feature late game on CBS. Dallas will have Ezekiel Elliott available, a major plus given Kansas City’s defense is unimpressive. That said, a Chiefs win is clearly what we want here. On Monday night, Green Bay has a home game against the fading Detroit Lions. Aaron Rodgers can theoretically return this season, and in the unlikely event that happens, I’d rather the Packers be well out of the playoff hunt.
Team I recommend to root for this weekend: Broncos, Buccaneers, Giants, Falcons, Chiefs, Lions