NFL Teams That Will Be Battling for the Playoffs Until Week 17

Jacqueline KirbyContributor IIINovember 23, 2011

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 20:  Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up on the sides lines during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on November 20, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Panthers 49-35.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

We all know that this season has been full of surprises.  The Colts have no shot at the playoffs, yet the Detroit Lions do—it seems like an alternate football universe out there.

There is more of a disparity between teams in the NFC, so there are really only a few teams that will be competing for the playoffs, while the AFC has more contenders. 



Detroit Lions

They have a 7-3 record right now and are set to take on the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving, then again on New Years Day.  

Their only other tough competitor is the Saints—other than them, they will face the Vikings, Raiders and Chargers.  


Chicago Bears

Also at 7-3, the Bears have mainly the same opponents as the Lions do for the rest of the season.  Jay Cutler has surgery scheduled for today for a thumb injury he suffered this past weekend, so it will be interesting to see how the end of their season plays out. 


Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are second in the NFC South and are definitely not playing with the same stature as they did last year.  

Matt Ryan is still a great quarterback, but it seems that some of coach Mike Smith's decisions may not prove to have the best results. 


Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are sitting at 6-4 but are leading their division.  

They will play the Miami Dolphins, who are coming off a big win against the Bills, on Thanksgiving, then still have to face the Giants twice. 


New York Giants

Eli Manning and the Giants have been on a downward sweep since defeating the Patriots three weeks ago.  They will have to get it together and win their last few to be playoff contenders. 



Houston Texans

With Matt Schaub's season-ending foot injury and Matt Leinart stepping up to the plate, the Texans better hope they can hold onto their spot in the AFC South through playoffs. 


Tennessee Titans 

The Titans will be in constant battle with the Texans all the way through week 17.  Chris Johnson is coming back around and if Jake Locker can step up they should be real contenders. 


Baltimore Ravens/Pittsburgh Steelers

They will keep competing for the title in the AFC North and quite possibly through to the AFC Championship. 


Oakland Raiders

Another team who made changes around midseason when they added Carson Palmer to their roster, they still have to take on the Bears, Lions and Chargers at home before the season ends.