The New York Giants are clinging to the NFC's best record at 11-2, one game ahead of the Carolina Panthers. New York and Carolina both control their own destines and are in line to receive first-round byes. The two teams square off in Week 16, with the winner having the inside track at the conference's number one seed. With the Giants dealing with injuries and off-field issues, their lack of focus cold lead to a late-season collapse.
QB Tony Romo
Meanwhile in the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one game back of Carolina. With an easier remaining schedule, the Buccaneers still have a shot at the division crown. Although they're tied with Dallas with a record of 8-5, the Atlanta Falcons would currently be left out of the playoffs. The Cowboys have a better conference record, thus edging the Falcons for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. Additionally, the New Orleans Saints are still alive with a record of 7-6.
Like New Orleans, the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins were holding onto slim playoff hopes coming into this week. Both Green Bay and Washington lost their respective games making their road to the playoffs nearly impossible. The Packers have a record of 5-8 and are three games out in the NFC North division. The Redskins have been competitive in the NFC East but are currently last in the division with a 7-6 record.
Another crucial matchup with playoff implications takes place in the desert this week as the Cardinals welcome the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams hold a record of 8-5 and the winner will emerge as the favorite for the third playoff seed. While Arizona has already wrapped up the division, Minnesota looks to hold off a late run by the Chicago Bears.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org