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Assessing the NFC playoff picture - who is in the running?

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At the moment, only Carolina and Arizona look to be in complete control of their respective divisions in this conference. The Panthers are still on course for a 16-0 regular season record and a cursory glance at their remaining schedule makes it look like a real possibility.

Arizona may have to see off the late challenge of a recently resurgent Seattle, but injuries to star player Lynch and Graham may bring a halt to the Seahawks two-game win streak. The Cardinals are not without injury worries of their own, however, and will hope that David Johnson can carry the load at running back for the team with injuries to both Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.

The NFC East is a curious beast, a division that no-one seems to want to win with all four teams possessing a sub-.500 record (With Washington potentially reaching the dizzying heights of .500 should they beat Dallas).


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Amazingly, given all the turmoil surrounding RGIII at the start of the season and the utter collapse of Alfred Morris, the Redskins somehow find themselves top of this pile going into week 13.

Dallas may have expected a return to winning ways with the heralded return of quarterback Tony Romo, but any such aspirations were cut short as Romo was forced to leave the field due to injury again last weekend. Meanwhile, the Giants and the Eagles remain full of potential but failing utterly to harness it.

In the North, the Vikings have quietly built themselves into playoff contenders, as they wrestle with Green Bay for the top spot in the division. This looks to be a straight contest between these two teams as Chicago and Detroit fall away from contention.

Despite their struggles at Running Back, I expect the Packers to rally from their mid-season slump and finish the year strongly, beating a more inexperienced Vikings outfit to the top spot in the NFC North.

Despite a four-game losing streak, the Falcons are still capable of claiming a wild card berth from the NFC South. They do face the undefeated Panthers twice in the next five games, though, so it might be a bit much to ask of them.

Seattle should press on to cement their playoff spot in the next few weeks, potentially setting up a winner takes all game against Arizona in the final week of the season.

There are quite a few teams just under .500 in this conference, but it is difficult seeing any of them constructing a meaningful push for a playoff spot. The Bears and the Bucs are just a bit too average.

Detroit, although enjoying a three-game winning streak, have left it too late. The 49ers are a mess. New Orleans and St. Louis are in freefall, both in the midst of losing streaks (three and four games respectively).

For now, the Panthers have now sewn up things in the South and Arizona look pretty solid the West. The East is completely up for grabs and the North will be a two horse race between the Vikings and the Packers.

Carolina Panthers
New York Giants
Green Bay Packers
Dallas Cowboys
Seattle Seahawks

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