With four weeks to go in the NFL regular season, it appears we have already separated the Super Bowl contenders from the pretenders. Nevertheless, don’t tell that to a slew of teams who are still hoping for a playoff spot and are still mathematically probable to join the cast of postseason teams:
National Football Conference
- Seattle Seahawks (11-1)
- New Orleans Saints (9-3)
- Detroit Lions (7-5)
- Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
- Carolina Panthers (7-5)
- San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
Opening Round Bye: Seattle, New Orleans
NFC Wildcard: Detroit vs. San Francisco, Dallas vs. Carolina
American Football Conference
- Denver Broncos (10-2)
- New England Patriots (9-3)
- Indianapolis Colts (8-4)
- Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
- Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
- 6. Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
Opening Round Bye: Denver, New England
AFC Wildcard: Indianapolis vs. Baltimore, Cincinnati vs. Kansas City
Still in the hunt for a playoff spot are the Miami Dolphins (6-6), Tennessee Titans (5-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7), New York Jets (5-7) and San Diego Chargers (5-7) in the AFC while the Philadelphia Eagles (7-5), Arizona Cardinals (7-5), Chicago Bears (6-6) and Green Bay Packers (5-6) still have a fighting chance in the NFC.
All of these teams however, do not control destiny in their hands; they need help from the higher-ranked teams, and that these same teams start losing from this point on so the teams outside the playoff picture could have a chance.
Crucial Games in Week 14 (With Major Playoff Positioning Implications)
- Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints - Newton vs. Brees in Week 14 and Brees vs. Newton in Week 16… And oh, their teams are tied at 9-3 atop the NFC South.
- Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles - The Lions want that top spot in the NFC North while Philly wants the NFC East and a playoff spot.
- St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals – Both are currently out of the playoff picture but the Cards have the bigger chance. Arizona is half a game back behind NFC West rivals San Francisco, which they’ll meet in the final game of the regular season.
- Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers – Not yet do-or-die for Green Bay depending on what other teams do but virtually a must win. Quarterback Aaron Rodger is not yet cleared by doctors as of Tuesday, so they have to get this win versus the Falcons without their best player.
- Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers – While the Seahawks have locked down a playoff spot, the 49ers will be fighting for their postseason lives.
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