With five weeks left before the 2013 NFL playoffs commence, there are only a few teams that appear locked into the postseason. Below those elite few is a mob of squads that is fighting over the final few spots in each conference.
In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints have clearly been the top teams to this point, with Carolina lurking as a potential dark-horse team right below the Saints.
Over on the AFC side, The Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs are head and shoulders above the rest of the conference.
Here's a look at the entire playoff picture for both conferences.
With five games left, there's a good chance the playoff picture will change significantly as the season winds to a close. With that in mind, here's a look at a few teams currently on the outside looking in with the best shot at earning a postseason berth.
|NFC Playoff Picture|
|AFC Playoff Picture|
After winning four games in a row, the Arizona Cardinals are in excellent position to overtake the San Francisco 49ers as the final wild-card team in the NFC.
Both teams have a record of 7-4 entering the season's final weeks, but the 49ers hold the lead after beating the Cardinals earlier in the year. Both teams face the St. Louis Rams and Seahawks during this final stretch, and they will finish the season against one another in Week 17.
The Cardinals are in Philadelphia this weekend to take on the Eagles. Philly has won three games in a row leading up to this contest, which will be the biggest of the season for both teams.
The 49ers host the Rams on Sunday and the Seahawks in Week 14 before hitting the road to take on the suddenly red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If San Francisco stumbles a bit, then the Cardinals will pounce on the chance to take the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, at 5-6, have the same record as the No. 6 seed Tennessee Titans, and both teams are tied with the Baltimore Ravens and three other teams for that final spot. Tennessee owns the spot at this time, thanks to a rather confusing web of tiebreakers.
The Titans won't likely hang onto that spot, and the New York Jets, San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins have all been too inconsistent this year to put any stock in as it pertains to the playoffs.
Interestingly enough, it'll be surprising to this author if Pittsburgh wins this weekend in Baltimore. However, looking at both teams' schedules down the stretch, the Steelers have a better shot of sneaking into the final playoff spot.
After taking on the Ravens on Thursday, the Steelers will host Miami and Cincinnati before heading to Green Bay and finishing the season back at home against Cleveland.
Of Baltimore's next four games, two are on the road. They'll be at home against Minnesota and New England, with road games at Detroit and Cincinnati.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East with records of 6-5.
Technically, thanks to a win in Philadelphia earlier this year, Dallas is in the lead for the division. The two teams will meet up in Week 17 in Dallas, and it's likely that final contest will decide the division winner.
In the meantime, Philadelphia hosts Arizona this weekend, after which time the Eagles will host the Lions and Bears, with a road game in Minnesota in between them.
Dallas hosts Oakland this weekend, and the Cowboys should easily win that game. Then, the Cowboys hit the road to take on Chicago and Washington, with a home game against Green Bay in between.
The NFC East divisional crown could go to either team, but the Eagles appear to have the inside track right now, thanks to the stellar play of Nick Foles.
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