NFL Playoff Scenarios: Power Ranking NFC East Contenders' Shot at Division Crown

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IDecember 18, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins walks onto the field against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The NFC East is a gridlocked mess. Three teams sit at the top with identical 8-6 records. This is going to make for an exciting two weeks. 

I'm going to rank the three contenders' chances at taking home the division title, but it isn't an easy task. 

There is no clear favorite just going on the remaining schedule, and while the Giants looked awful last week and it would be easy to write of their chances, they are the defending Super Bowl champs and a resilient group. 

So check out the standings and then we'll get into the rankings. You can also see the full playoff picture for the entire NFL below. 

NFC East Standings
1. Washington Redskins (8-6)
2. New York Giants (8-6)
3. Dallas Cowboy (8-6)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10)

No. 3: New York Giants

Remaining Schedule: at Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia

The Giants check in at the bottom because they are in a bad position with the tiebreakers. They split with both the Cowboys and Redskins, so any tie involving the Giants will go to division record, and the Giants, at 2-3 in the division, have the worst division record of these clubs. 

So, essentially, the Giants need to win out, and hope that both the Redskins and Cowboys lose a game. And to that end, things are not looking great for the Giants. 

They have the toughest matchup of these three in Week 16 as they have to travel to take on the Ravens. Baltimore has lost three straight and it is vulnerable, but then again, so are the Giants. 

No. 2: Cowboys

Remaining Schedule: vs. New Orleans, at Washington

The Cowboys are on fire. They have won three in a row and five of their last six, and unlike the Giants, they control their own destiny. If they win out, they are in. 

That is not going to be easy. The Cowboys will take on the dangerous Saints, who are fresh off a 41-0 trouncing of the Buccaneers, but Dallas gets them at home, and the Saints are not as dangerous on the road.

I like the Cowboys in that game. Also, even if the Cowboys lose that game, they still have a chance to win the division if they can beat the Redskins in the finale. 

However, therein lies the real reason they are No. 2. 

The Redskins already beat the Cowboys this year, and that one was in Dallas. The Cowboys will have to try to avenge that loss on the road. I don't like their chances. 

Washington put up 437 yards while beating Dallas 38-31 in the first meeting. The Redskins were able to run and throw effectively in that one, and similar success should be expected when they meet again. 

*No. 1: Redskins

Remaining Schedule: at Philadelphia, vs. Dallas

There is a giant asterisk on this ranking, and that has to do with the health of Robert Griffin III. His playing status, as the Redskins point out, is up to the doctors. 

Despite win, Shanahan not considering resting Griffin III for Cousins if @rgiii is healthy: "If doctors say he's ready, he'll play."

— Redskins (@Redskins) December 17, 2012

Even against the weak Eagles, I don't like the Redskins chances without RGIII. The Eagles have plenty of film on backup Kirk Cousins now, and that will make it easier to slow the rookie down. 

Still, the Eagles can lose to anyone. The Redskins would have a shot no matter who is at QB. The same cannot be said against the Cowboys. They will need Griffin, but you have to like his chances to play at that point, and as discussed above, I see Griffin leading his team to victory there. 


 No. 1 Seed Atlanta Falcons (12-2) Clinched NFC South
 No. 2 Seed San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) Lead NFC West; Clinched Playoff Berth
 No. 3 Seed Green Bay Packers (9-4) Clinched NFC North
 No. 4 Seed Washington Redskins (8-6) Lead NFC East
 No. 5 Seed Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
 No. 6 Seed Minnesota Vikings (8-6)
 Chicago Bears (8-6)
 Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
 New York Giants (8-6)
 St. Louis Rams (6-7-1)
 New Orleans Saints (6-8)


 No. 1 Seed Houston Texans (12-2) Clinched AFC South
 No. 2 Seed Denver Broncos (11-3) Clinched AFC West
 No. 3 Seed New England Patriots (10-4) Clinched AFC East
 No. 4 Seed Baltimore Ravens (9-5) Lead AFC North; Clinched Playoff Berth

 No. 5 Seed Indianapolis Colts (9-5)
 No. 6 Seed Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
 Miami Dolphins (6-8)



Atlanta: vs. Detroit, vs. Chicago

San Francisco: at Seattle, vs. Arizona

Green Bay: vs. Tennessee, at Minnesota

Washington: at Philadelphia, vs. Dallas

Seattle: vs. San Francisco, vs. St. Louis

Minnesota: at Houston, vs. Green Bay

Chicago: at Arizona, vs. Detroit

Dallas: vs. New Orleans, at Washington

New York: at Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia

St. Louis: at Tampa Bay, at Seattle

New Orleans: at Dallas, vs. Carolina


Houston: vs. Minnesota, at Indianapolis

Denver: vs. Cleveland, vs. Kansas City

New England: at Jacksonville, vs. Miami

Baltimore: vs. New York Giants, at Cincinnati

Indianapolis: at Kansas City, vs. Houston

Cincinnati: at Pittsburgh, vs. Baltimore

Pittsburgh: vs. Cincinnati, vs. Cleveland

Miami: vs. Buffalo, at New England


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