Playoff Forecast: Contenders Snapshot

With only three weeks left in the regular season, the NFC playoff picture is starting to take shape. Below is a look at how the conference stacks up heading into Week 15. All playoff odds are courtesy of FiveThirtyEight.com.

No. 1 Seed: Dallas Cowboys (11-2) – 1st Place, NFC EastOdds of Making Playoffs: 100%
Odds of Winning Division: >99%
* *The Cowboys are undefeated against every team not named the New York Giants. Last Sunday, the G-Men beat Dallas for the second time this season, 10-7, marking the first time rookie QB Dak Prescott hasn't led his team to double digit points. The Cowboys still have a sizeable lead in the NFC East, tough, and are the only NFC team that has clinched a playoff spot.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 18: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
Dec. 26: vs. Detroit Lions (9-4)
Jan. 1: at Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)

No. 2 Seed: Detroit Lions (9-4) – 1st Place, NFC NorthOdds of Making Playoffs: 84%
Odds of Winning Division: 75%

The Lions are enjoying one of their best seasons in recent memory, thanks in large part to a high-powered offense led by QB Matthew Stafford. Detroit has won five in a row and eight of its last nine. They are currently two games ahead of the Vikings and Packers in the NFC North. But trouble may be lurking. Their last three games will be tough sledding. Could their finale against the Packers be for the division title?

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 18: at New York Giants (9-4)
Dec. 26: at Dallas Cowboys (11-2)
Jan. 1: vs. Green Bay Packers (7-6)

No. 3 Seed: Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1) – 1st Place, NFC WestOdds of Making Playoffs: >99%
Odds of Winning Division: >99%

With a healthy Russell Wilson under center, Seattle has emerged as the best team in the NFC West by a significant margin. This is due, in large part, to its success at home: The Seahawks are 6-0 this year at CenturyLink Field. They are coming off a 38-10 loss to the Packers, however, and will take on the Rams Thursday night on short rest.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 15: vs. Los Angeles Rams (4-9)
Dec. 24: vs. Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1)
Jan. 1: at San Francisco 49ers (1-12)

No. 4 Seed: Atlanta Falcons (8-5) – 1st Place, NFC SouthOdds of Making Playoffs: 91%
Odds of Winning Division: 74%

By thrashing the Rams in Los Angeles, the Falcons moved three games above .500 and held onto first place in the NFC South, via a tie-breaker over the Buccaneers. Having that tiebreaker means the Falcons control their own destiny in the NFC South with three regular season games left. They haven't locked up a playoff spot yet, but they're also still in contention for a first round bye.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 18: vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-12)
Dec. 24: at Carolina Panthers (5-8)
Jan. 1: vs. New Orleans Saints (5-8)

No. 5 Seed: New York Giants (9-4) – 2nd Place, NFC EastOdds of Making Playoffs: 75%
Odds of Winning Division: 5%

Three consecutive losses during the first half of 2016 put the Giants in a difficult position. But since then, they've won seven of eight and moved into the top wild card slot, ensuring that Ben McAdoo will have a winning record during his first year as head coach.
Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 18: vs. Detroit Lions (9-4)
Dec. 22: at Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)
Jan. 1: at Washington Redskins (7-5-1)

No. 6 Seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) – 2nd Place, NFC SouthOdds of Making Playoffs: 54%
Odds of Winning Division: 25%

Like New York, Tampa Bay and its first-year head coach have overcome early adversity by rattling off a bunch of wins in a row. Since falling into a 1-3 hole, Dirk Koetter's club has won seven of nine and five straight – a run capped by last Sunday's victory over New Orleans. Everything from a first round bye to playoff elimination are on the table in their final three weeks. Which get off to a tough task in Dallas on Sunday Night football.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 18: at Dallas Cowboys (11-2)
Dec. 24: at New Orleans Saints (5-8)
Jan. 1: vs. Carolina Panthers (5-8)

Still in the Hunt

  • *Washington Redskins (7-5-1) – 3rd Place, NFC East
    Odds of Making Playoffs: 46%
    Odds of Winning Division: 0%
    Minnesota Vikings (7-6) – 2nd Place, NFC North

Odds of Making Playoffs: 19%
Odds of Winning Division: 3%* Green Bay Packers (7-6) – 3rd Place, NFC North*

Odds of Making Playoffs: 31%
Odds of Winning Division: 21%* Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1) – 2nd Place, NFC West*

Odds of Making Playoffs: <1%
Odds of Winning Division: <1%* New Orleans Saints (5-8) – 3rd Place, NFC South*

Odds of Making Playoffs: <1%
Odds of Winning Division: <1%* Carolina Panthers (5-8) – 4th Place, NFC South*

Odds of Making Playoffs: <1%
Odds of Winning Division: <1%
Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) – 4th Place, NFC East

Odds of Making Playoffs: <1%
Odds of Winning Division: 0%

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