Detroit Lions 2011 NFC Playoff Race: Week 10 Contenders: A Weekly Series

Michael SuddsCorrespondent INovember 8, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  A Green Bay Packers fan holds up a sign before the Packers take on the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Chicago victory in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football has brought the Bears into contention for one of the two NFC wild-card spots in the playoffs. This development means that the Lions vs. Bears matchup in Week 10 will have a major impact upon the wild-card race going forward.

Let’s track the wild card-race in the NFC on a weekly basis to see who has the best chance of emerging as a playoff team, and which teams face elimination games. 

If the season were to end today, the playoff picture looks like this:

Division champs: Green Bay (8-0), New York Giants (6-2), New Orleans (6-3) and San Francisco (7-1)

Wild Cards: Detroit (6-2) and Chicago (5-3) (Chicago’s win over Atlanta gives them the tiebreaker.)

Contenders: Atlanta (5-3), Dallas (4-4) and Tampa Bay (4-4)

Week 10 Impact Matchup Notes

The Packers continue to look like the best team in the NFL and should continue to excel with a MNF matchup against the woeful Vikings.

The 49ers are playing for home-field advantage in a division that they have a stranglehold on, the NFC West. The Giants come to town desperately needing a win.

The Lions vs. Chicago game is a must-win for both teams. A loss would cripple either team going into Week 11. Both teams need to maintain contact with the streaking Green Bay Packers. The Lions would be impacted by a loss, but Chicago even more so, as they would be left scrambling for their playoff lives down the stretch.

New Orleans has a big game at Atlanta, who trails the Saints by one game in the NFC South. A loss by either team will not be catastrophic as the schedule looks soft for both until their Week 16 rematch in New Orleans, where the NFC South title will likely be decided. However, an Atlanta loss will nudge them closer to the wild-card precipice.

The Giants travel to San Francisco for a big game that the Giants need in order to hold off the 4-4 Cowboys, who host the Bills in a game that is anything but a gimme. Week 10 will set the tone for the title race in the NFC East. A Dallas loss will put their wild-card chances on life support.

Tampa Bay could lose ground with a tough game at Houston. This game can be viewed as an elimination game for the Bucs.

The losses suffered in Week 9 by the Eagles and Redskins have all but eliminated them as playoff hopefuls. They are now on the outside, looking in.

We will track the division title and wild-card races every week as the season unfolds. Who will suffer a monumental collapse, and who will shock the football world with a dazzling dash to the finish line?

Stay tuned!