The NFC playoff picture is starting to become more clear for the 2021-2022 season. After week 16, several teams have clinched playoff spots as well as their respective divisions. The Dallas Cowboys dismantled The Washington Football Team 56-14 to win the NFC East joined by the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning their divisions. The Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals also secured playoff spots in the NFC. The NFC West is the only division up for grabs between the Rams and Cardinals and the wild card race continues to tighten.
The NFC Playoff Picture is starting to take shape.
Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay sit atop the NFC North at 11-4 with the Minnesota Vikings the next closest team at 7-8. The Packers are sitting comfortably leading both their division and the NFC as the favorite to earn the elusive first-round bye. Minnesota is making a late-season playoff push to secure a playoff bid as the Wildcard.
The NFC playoff picture is WILD!
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) December 27, 2021
The Rams improved to 11-4 while the Cardinals slipped up again falling to 10-5. After the Rams defeated the Cardinals three weeks ago, and then the Detroit Lions upset Arizona, Kyler Murray and company find themselves with five losses and in a heated battle for control of the NFC West. Both teams are behind Green Bay for the NFC lead, but both have clinched playoffs with one winning the NFC West and the other occupying a Wildcard spot.
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a large lead in the NFC South sitting at 11-4. The New Orleans Saints have made this division interesting by beating the reigning Super Bowl champions twice, but the Buccaneers are in a great position to make the playoffs as the NFC South representative. Many are discouraged by the idea of Tom Brady in the playoffs again, but recent injuries to Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans have opened the door for other teams to take the NFL’s crown.
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2021
The Dallas Cowboys claimed a playoff spot after Tennessee defeated San Francisco in Week 15. Dallas is 4-0 against NFC East opponents and in clear control of the conference. The Cowboys have had a nice bounce-back season with Dak Prescott remaining relatively healthy. The offense has slumped as of late, but poured it on Washington winning 56-14 this week. The defense is also playing better than they have in years to give this NFC East giant a nice balance on both sides of the ball. The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team will likely have to settle for competing for the last Wildcard spot come playoff time.
The NFC Wildcard will be very close this season. There are several teams in contention including the runner-up of the NFC West between the Rams and Cardinals both having clinched a playoff birth. The 49ers are sitting at 8-7 after their Thursday night loss and losing ground on their playoff hopes. The Eagles greatly increased their wildcard hopes improving to 8-7 after beating the Giants. After San Francisco, there are three teams tied at 7-8: Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and the New Orleans Saints. Washington sits at 6-8, while not mathetmatically eliminated, their chances of making the playoffs are getting slimmer with each loss. The remaining NFC teams are more than a game out of Wildcard contention and the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, and the New York Giants have all been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Key Matchups Remaining
Week 17 will help teams to clinch playoffs. After the Miami Dolphins defeated the New Orleans Saints, the Saints are on the outside looking in. The Falcons have a tough matchup against the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. This is a pivotal game for the Falcons playoff hopes. Philadelphia plays in Washington, a game that could eliminate Washington and springboard Philadelphia into the Wildcard driver’s seat. The Rams play against the Baltimore Ravens, a potential NFC West sealing game. The 7-8 Saints are playing against the Carolina Panthers with hopes to compete for the Wildcard. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers play the Vikings in a heated divisional battle that could mean the season to Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. Finally, another potential game of the year takes place in Dallas as Kyler Murray and the Cardinals come to Dallas. This game could decide the NFC West, as well as give one team an upperhand for the coveted number one seed and first round bye.
NFC Playoffs are Far from Decided
December and January will be entertaining. The remaining teams will push for the playoffs and vie for the remaining Wildcard spots. As a crucial Week 17 approaches, NFL teams must play their best football in order to solidify their playoff birth. The Packers, Cowboys, Rams, and Buccaneers strive to earn the first-round bye while Tampa controls the NFC South. The remaining NFC teams will struggle to win this war of attrition and grab one of the three wildcard spots.