Lions

Tony Ortiz’ NFC Playoff Picture

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 04: Wide receiver Nate Burleson #13 of the Detroit Lions breaks a tackle by cornerback Jabari Greer #33 of the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 04: Wide receiver Nate Burleson #13 of the Detroit Lions breaks a tackle by cornerback Jabari Greer #33 of the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Tony Ortiz started at WXYT in 1986 working as an intern from Spe...
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As the NFL heads into the final four weeks of the regular season, here’s a look at the five contenders for the final three playoff spots in the NFC.  Three teams are locks for the post-season:  Green Bay [12-0] is the #1 seed; San Francisco [10-2] is the #2 seed and New Orleans [9-3] is the #3 seed.  Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the remaining contenders:

 

Dallas Cowboys:

Current record: 7 – 5

Games left: vs. NY Giants; at Tampa Bay; Philadelphia; at NY Giants

Predicted record: 10 – 6

Predicted finish: NFC East winner, #4 seed in NFC playoffs

*Quietly, the Cowboys have put themselves in great position to make the post-season- simply put, win and they’re in.  Two keys to a successful playoff run for Dallas: better quarterbacking from Tony Romo and continued good play from Rob Ryan’s defense, which has improved from week-to-week.

 

Chicago Bears:

Current record: 7 – 5

Games left: at Denver; vs. Seattle; at Green Bay; at Minnesota

Predicted record: 10 – 6

Predicted finish: Wild Card winner, #5 seed in NFC playoffs

*This is a tough one to call. Jay Cutler’s injury was devastating, but losing Matt Forte could be the crippling blow to the Bears.  One advantage for Chicago – four [relatively] easy games to close out the year, although Tim Tebow and the Broncos won’t be pushovers at home.  Having Marion Barber filling in at RB – plus a solid defense – should be enough to get Bears to playoffs, but they won’t be there for very long.

 

 

Atlanta Falcons:

Current record: 7 – 5

Games left: at Carolina; vs. Jacksonville; at New Orleans; vs. Tampa Bay

Predicted record: 10 – 6

Predicted finish: Wild Card winner, #6 seed in NFC playoffs

*The Falcons have the easiest schedule among the contenders, although a Thursday night game against Jacksonville could be tough because of a short week.  QB Matt Ryan is playing better, and this is the time of the year when RB Michael Turner becomes critical to the Falcons’ offensive attack.  A Wild Card round game between Atlanta and New Orleans will be the best of the opening weekend of the playoffs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detroit Lions:

Current record: 7 – 5

Games left: vs. Minnesota; at Oakland; vs. San Diego; at Green Bay

Predicted record: 9 – 7

Predicted finish: Out of playoffs

*Tough one to call, but that schedule is just too tough [for example, Oakland plays better at home than on the road] and the Lions have not played well in recent weeks, losing 5 of the last 7.  QB Matthew Stafford looked better throwing the ball in the loss to New Orleans, but the running game – which has been effective – has also been inconsistent, and that’s allowed teams to tee off with their pass rush on Stafford.

 

New York Giants:

Current record: 6 – 6

Games left: at Dallas; vs. Washington; at New York Jets; vs. Dallas

Predicted record: 8 – 8

Predicted finish: Out of playoffs

*Toughest schedule of the five contenders on this list, and there’s a good chance that the Giants could lose 3 of the 4, which would cost Tom Coughlin his job [although he’s still likely to get fired at 8 – 8].  Some are pointing to New York’s late run in 2007 [when they won the Super Bowl over the 18 – 0 New England Patriots] as a reason to not give up on the Giants, but the running game isn’t as good, and QB Eli Manning – while having a solid season – still makes some god-awful mistakes at key times in games.

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