The NFC playoff picture is slightly less crowded after Week 16, but three postseason spots are still up for grabs.
The NFC East crown is available, as well as both wild card slots. As of now, here's how the NFC playoff picture looks.
|No. 1 Seed Atlanta Falcons (13-2) Clinched NFC South|
|No. 2 Seed San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) Lead NFC West; Clinched Playoff Berth|
|No. 3 Seed Green Bay Packers (11-4) Clinched NFC North|
|No. 4 Seed Washington Redskins (9-6) Lead NFC East|
|WILD CARD LEADERS|
|No. 5 Seed Seattle Seahawks (9-5)|
No. 6 Seed Minnesota Vikings (9-6)
IN THE HUNT
|Chicago Bears (9-6)|
|Dallas Cowboys (8-7)|
|New York Giants (8-7)|
As you can see, there are a number of ways the postseason positioning can shake out.
The winner of the Cowboys versus Redskins will take the NFC East title, while the Giants, Bears, Seahawks and Vikings are all fighting for wild card spots.
The Cowboys cannot make the playoffs if they lose, while the Redskins can. The Vikings and Seahawks control their own destinies, but the Giants and Bears need some help to sneak in.
Keep all that in mind as you watch the Week 17 games. Although I may be completely wrong, I'm expecting the following NFC playoff contenders to win next Sunday.
The Redskins have been remarkably consistent lately, winning their last six games to surge into playoff contention. Whether they are starting a healthy RG3 or backup Kirk Cousins, Washington is capable of beating any team in the league.
That includes the Cowboys, who fell to the Redskins 38-31 on Thanksgiving.
That game ultimately could have gone either way, but RG3 dominated throughout, throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns.
I'm expecting a similar performance from him in Week 17.
The Cowboys have been playing well lately, but their defense is banged up. Look for RG3 and the Redskins to survive another exciting shootout with their NFC East rival.
The Bears don't control their own destiny, but they can do themselves a big favor by beating the Detroit Lions. That shouldn't be too tough since the floundering Lions have lost seven games in a row.
Detroit does have Calvin Johnson, who is submitting perhaps the best individual season ever by a receiver. The Bears secondary will have their hands full with Johnson, but they will be in good shape if they can keep him out of the end zone.
Offensively, Chicago shouldn't have any trouble moving the ball.
Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are one of the best tandems in the league, and Detroit has allowed 30 or more points in five of its last six games.
They may not get into the playoffs, but you can expect the Bears to at least end the season on a winning note.
New York Giants
The Giants don't deserve to be in the playoffs after their awful performances in back-to-back weeks.
However, they can still get in if they take care of business at home against Philadelphia.
New York lost 33-14 to Baltimore in Week 16, just seven days after getting beat down 34-0 by Atlanta. Luckily, the Eagles aren't nearly as good as either of those teams.
Philly is 4-11 and they've lost 11 of their last 12 games. They do have LeSean McCoy back, but without Michael Vick at quarterback, I can't picture them beating New York for the second time this season.
I'm expecting Eli Manning and the Giants to cruise to an easy victory before learning their postseason fate.