NFC playoff race down to the wire

This is definitely what former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle had in mind when he spoke of that immortal visionary concept in the 1960s – parity. With it the NFL can never be confused with MLYB – Major League Yankees Baseball. Thanks to revenue sharing, a concept that still escapes the grand ole game, every team except for the Lions and Cardinals are given a sporting chance to vie for the Lombardi Trophy each season.

That's why with just two weeks left in the regular season, nine NFC teams still have a shot to make the tournament.

Again, tiebreakers work like this: first head-to-head; then division record; and third, common opponents, since each of the four teams will have 14 common games in their 16-game schedule.

Here's a look at the teams still in it:

In the playoffs

1. Seattle (12-2). The Seahawks continue to have the inside track to being home throughout the playoffs. Now with 10 straight wins, Seattle only needs to win one of its final two games to guarantee the road to Detroit goes through the great Northwest. They already have a first-round bye. With Indy losing, a possible Super Bowl preview will be televised nationally this Christmas Eve. Both teams could rest their players, but why? This is football for God's sake. Tony and Mike: Let's give America what they want! Remaining games: Colts, at Packers.

In the picture

2. Chicago (10-4). With Minnesota losing, the Bears, like the Giants, now hold a two-game lead in the North. Like NY, Chicago just needs to win one of its last two games to get it done. Currently with an undefeated division mark and 9-1 conference record, the Bears will have no problem clawing their way into the playoffs. Remaining games: Green Bay, at Minnesota.

3. New York (10-4). Now with a two-game advantage in the East, the Jints can win the NFC East next week if they beat Washington. Better yet, the team is playing better every week with incredible efforts all around. New York could definitely do some damage in the playoffs and as a bit of an aside, Tiki Barber's 220-yard performance against KC could very well help him steal the rushing title from Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James. For Big Blue, those pesky Redskins are the only team standing in their way for a big East crown and possible first-round bye. Remaining games: at Washington, at Oakland.

4. Carolina (10-4). The Panthers bounced back from the previous week's loss to Tampa Bay by hammering the horrible Saints 27-10. Carolina has two tough games left and since the Bucs and Panthers split their head-to-head games, should the season end in a tie the division crown would go to the team with the best division record. Remaining games: Dallas, at Atlanta.

5. Tampa Bay (9-5). The Bucs playoff dreams may have stopped in New England. Despite the big win over the Panthers the week before, the Bucs were shut out against the Patriots, 28-0. Worse, Tampa Bay showed their lackluster run game by putting up only 30 yards on the ground. That won't cut it when you're trying to make a run for the playoffs. Still, with the best division record, Tampa would have the tiebreaker advantage if they win their rest of their division games. Remaining games: Atlanta, New Orleans.

6. Minnesota (8-6). Maybe Brad Johnson got a little too much pub. The usually unflappable veteran suffered through a 16-for-30, 130-yard two-interception game against the Steelers – thus halting the six-game winning streak. Worse, the offense could only muster three points in front of the home fans. Now the Vikes have to win their final two games for a shot at the playoffs. That seems unlikely with the Bears, and their unyielding defense, as their final opponent. Remaining games: at Baltimore, Chicago.

In Contention

7. Washington (8-6). The Skins 35-7 drubbing of the Pokes gave them a series sweep over Dallas for the first time in 10 years. Washington has now won three straight, and has a lot of confidence going into its showdown with the Giants. Two division games remain: New York, at Philadelphia.

8. Dallas (8-6). The Cowboys have lost three of their last four games. Not what you want to be doing in December when you're looking for a playoff spot. Chances are they won't win their last two games, which they must do to possibly sneak in. Remaining games: at Carolina, St. Louis.

9. Atlanta (8-6). Now 4-5 within the conference and 1-3 in the division, things are bleak for the birds of prey. The good news, they can prove the doubters wrong with their final two games against division opponents. Remaining teams: at Tampa Bay, Carolina.

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