Schedules Are Key For NFC Contenders

November 26th, 2008

By BOB FOX analyst Bob Fox takes a weekly look at the NFC playoff picture. Fox writes for numerous sports publications. He brings an insightful take on the conference. analyst Bob Fox says Sundays Giants-at-Redskins clash is one many key division matchups that will clarify the NFC playoff picture analyst Bob Fox says Sunday's Giants-at-Redskins clash is one many key division matchups that will clarify the NFC playoff picture

You know it is time for the stretch run to the NFL playoffs when Thanksgiving comes around.

This year, again, we will be seeing three games instead of two on Thanksgiving because of the NFL Network.  Not all will see that third game (Arizona at Philadelphia), however, because the NFL Network is not available on some cable systems. Those that have Verizon cable (like me) get NFL Network. And, of course, you hardcores with DIRECTV will have a full Turkey Day of football, too.

With five games to go in the season, the playoff situation has certainly gotten more interesting, especially in the NFC South, where the Bucs reside now in first place.  The key to the playoffs will be the remainder of each team’s schedule.

Here is a breakdown by division in the NFC:

NFC East
New York Giants  10-1
Washington Redskins  7-4
Dallas Cowboys  7-4
Philadelphia Eagles  5-5-1

The Giants are clearly the best team in the NFC right now.  But even the G-Men will have a difficult schedule down the stretch as they will have to play divisional rivals like the Redskins, Eagles and Cowboys, plus they also have to play teams with playoff aspirations like the Panthers and Vikings, as well.  This division will still probably have one Wild Card team.  But the road will be hazardous as the division will have a lot of divisional games.  The Redskins have two more divisional games left, the Cowboys also have two, while the Eagles have three. 

NFC North
Chicago Bears  6-5
Minnesota Vikings  6-5
Green Bay Packers  5-6
Detroit Lions  0-11

Only the division winner will make it to the playoffs in the NFC North.  And 9-7 will probably be the record of the divisional winner.   

All three teams fighting for the crown still have to play key divisional games.  The Bears and Vikings play each other this week, while the Bears and Packers meet in Week 16.  The Packers and Vikings still have to play the Lions, as well.  The Vikings were VERY fortunate to have won their first game against the Lions, as a very questionable interference call set up the Vikings victory.  The Bears also have to play the Jaguars, the Saints and the Texans, while the Vikings have to face the Cardinals, Falcons and Giants.  The Packers still have to play the Panthers, the Texans and the Jaguars.  

NFC South
Tampa Bay Bucs  8-3
Carolina Panthers  8-3
Atlanta Falcons  7-4
New Orleans Saints  6-5

The NFC South is a BEAST!  Every team is dangerous because of certain aspects of their particular squad.  The Bucs still have a very tough road to hoe, as they are about to begin a stretch that will bring them the Saints at home, and then the Panthers and Falcons on the road.  The Bucs will end their season with two home games against the AFC, with the dangerous Chargers coming to the Ray Jay followed by the pathetic Oakland Raiders.  The Panthers have to play the Bucs on Monday night on December 8th, plus go to Green Bay this week, play the Broncos at home, play the Giants in Jersey and then finish against the Saints in New Orleans.  The Falcons have to go to San Diego this week, then travel to New Orleans, host the Bucs, go to Minnesota and finish against the Rams at the Georgia Dome.  The Saints, who are fresh off their 51-29 thrashing of the Packers on Monday night, play the Bucs this Sunday in Tampa, then host the Falcons, go to Chicago, then Detroit and finish the season hosting the Panthers in New Orleans.  The NFC South will certainly have at least one Wild Card team.

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals  7-4
San Francisco 49ers  3-8
Seattle Seahawks  2-9
St. Louis Rams  2-9

Like the NFC North, only the division winner (the Cardinals) will be going to the playoffs out of the division.  The Cardinals will be a tough opponent for anyone that faces them in the playoffs because of their awesome passing attack.

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