Eleven weeks are in the books and the NFL playoff picture is taking shape as the season draws near to an end. Only six weeks remain.
The NFL playoffs feature a total of twelve teams, with six from each conference. The first four seeds are division winners. The last two are the wildcards. Here is the order of the top 6 NFC teams:
1) Seattle Seahawks (10-1) - NFC West
2) New Orleans Saints (8-2) - NFC South
3) Detroit Lions (6-4) - NFC North
4) Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) - NFC East
5) Carolina Panthers (7-3) - WC1
6) San Francisco 49ers (6-4) - WC2
Division leaders: Seattle is hanging on to that top seed. They're on a 6 game win streak heading into their bye. New Orleans seems to have a firm grip on the second seed, but Carolina is chasing them from behind. The NFC North seed (3) and NFC East seed (4) can easily flip depending on what happens down the stretch here. Philadelphia is back in first in the NFCE; they're the only team in the division with a winning record.
Wildcard: The Carolina Panthers are playing good football right now. Right now, no one is going to want to face that team, even as a wildcard. The Niners still have a good chance of making the post-season but the Cardinals are trying to make a run at their spot.
On the Bubble: The aforementioned Cardinals are just a tiebreaker away from overtaking the 49ers for the final wildcard spot. The Bears are still alive in the wildcard race and NFC North. The Dallas Cowboys will aim to keep up with the Eagles for the NFC East lead.
The Eagles have 5 games left while the Cowboys still have 6 to go. Philadelphia is entering their bye week while Dallas is coming off theirs. Let's look at their remaining schedules:
The Birds' playoffs chances are very much alive. The Cowboys-Giants game this week will be a critical one to watch. If Dallas loses, the Eagles are that much more in the driver's seat moving forward. If the Cowboys win, they're right back in first place of the NFC East. On the other hand, a Dallas win puts the Giants' four game win streak to a screeching halt and probably ends their season.
Philadelphia is playing well as of recent. They're on a three game winning streak. They finally won a home game. Nick Foles owns the league's top QB rating. The defense is the only team in the NFL to allow 21 points or less in each of their last seven games. If they can continue to play well, the Eagles should be in a good position to enter the post-season. It all comes down to keeping it together for these final five games. The games don't look too tough on paper, but it's up to the Eagles to prove they deserve their playoff berth.
If you want to mess around with various playoff scenarios, here's a link to ESPN's playoff machine.