NFL Playoff Picture 2013: Teams Whose Postseason Hopes Will Fade in Week 13

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NFL Playoff Picture 2013: Teams Whose Postseason Hopes Will Fade in Week 13
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The St. Louis Rams have been playing very well of late, but Jeff Fisher's team is about to have its playoff hopes all but squashed. At 5-6 and in last place in the NFC West, the Rams can ill afford to drop their seventh game of the season. 

The Rams' chances of winning the division are already pretty much smashed. Another win by the Seattle Seahawks or a loss by the Rams would mathematically eliminate the Rams from the division race. St. Louis may have hopes of sneaking into the final wild-card spot.

After Sunday, those hopes will be dashed. The Rams head for The Bay Area to take on the 7-4 San Francisco 49ers. The Rams' resurgence can be directly associated with their improving run game. Over the last three games, the Rams are averaging 166.6 yards per game on the ground.

That run game will be tested in a major way on Sunday. The Niners are 12th in the NFL in run defense and they held the Rams to just 18 yards on the ground in Week 4.

Look for San Francisco's defense to set the tone at home and hand the Rams a crushing seventh defeat.

Here are two other teams that will suffer a playoff-killing loss in Week 13.

 

Buffalo Bills

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The Bills' future is a little brighter than it was a year ago with E.J. Manuel set to be under center for the foreseeable future, but at 4-7, Buffalo can't afford another loss. If you just look at the records, it would seem the Bills have a very winnable game ahead of them against the 2-9 Atlanta Falcons at home.

The Falcons have had a miserable season for sure, but there is just too much talent on Atlanta's offense for the team not to be a threat. Signs that the Falcons are poised for an impressive performance were present in Week 12.

Atlanta pushed division rival New Orleans to the brink in a 17-14 loss. Most encouraging about this performance for the Falcons was the play of its defense. Atlanta wasn't exactly the 1985 Chicago Bears in the game, but holding the Saints to just 17 points is quite the accomplishment considering the Falcons had just allowed 41 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the week before.

Buffalo doesn't possess nearly the weapons on offense that the Saints do. In addition to that, the Bills could be running into the Falcons at the wrong time. Perhaps it's just time for an underachieving team with a plethora of talent to play somewhere close to the level most expected. 

The Falcons won't be going to the postseason. The team will have to settle for ruining the Bills' faint playoff hopes.

  

Green Bay Packers

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After a lopsided 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, the Packers' playoff hopes aren't looking very good. After the Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the Pack's hopes will be looking even worse.

As bad as the Bears' run defense has been this season (ranked 32nd in the NFL), the offense has looked great with Josh McCown at quarterback. The Bears have averaged 380.75 yards on offense over the last four games with McCown taking the majority of the snaps. The Vikings defense is not going to shut Chicago down.

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Even though Adrian Peterson is a good bet to have a big day, there will come a time when Christian Ponder will have to make plays with his arm. Despite the unit's struggles, the Bears' defense is still 10th in the NFL in forced turnovers. In a close game that should feature a good amount of scoring, the Bears will come up with the takeaways needed to stay tied with the Lions atop the NFC North at 7-5.

Green Bay isn't mathematically eliminated from wild-card contention, but the team has a much better shot at catching the Lions and Bears than sneaking into the final wild-card spot in the NFC. It appears the loser in the New Orleans-Carolina Panthers race in the NFC South will get one of the wild-card spots. The other should go to the loser in the Seattle Seahawks-Niners battle for supremacy in the NFC West.

Even when Aaron Rodgers returns, the Packers probably need to run the table to even have a shot at the division title. Finishing up perfect would put the team at 9-6-1. They have split the season series with the Lions, but Detroit would win a potential tiebreaker because the Lions are assured of finishing with a better division record. 

The Packers would have to hope the Lions and Bears stumble mightily in the last four games of the season. It isn't impossible, but it seems very unlikely.

 

Stat references per Pro Football Reference.

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