By Tony Ortiz

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.

Comments (2)
  1. Chris from New Baltimore says:

    How do you have Chicago finishing 10-6? In case you didn’t get the memo, Jay Cutler and Matt Forte are most likely done for the year. How are they going to win three of their last four games? They lost to Kansas City, who by the way are terrible. They have Tyler Palko throwing the ball, really? I mean I expect something like this from Pat Caputo, but you Ortiz? Wow, Let’s face it 9-7 will get the Lions in barring any miracle that Chicago can pull off, which if you can’t tell, I highly doubt. The wildcard spots are coming from the North and the South, so mark in Atlanta and Detroit. It’s the Lions spot to lose, with their four games remaining they should have two wins, Minnesota and more likely then Oakland at Oakland, San Diego is more promising at home.

    1. A Lyon's Fan says:

      The Lions suffer from one big liability, the Bill Ford Curse. The one constant entity in the Lions program is owner Bill Ford. And he’s not ignited any championship under his ownership. He’s already wealthy from inherited sources

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