Tuesday, November 28, 2006

NFC Playoff Picture (Pre-Week 13)

What a difference a week makes huh? Last week the Vikes were sitting as the 10th best team in the league and facing what seemed to be an insurmountable hill to get into the post season. Well, things fell our way this week, we took care of business (for the first time in November) and we now sit 1 game out of the playoffs. Here is how it all breaks down and at the bottom will be a list of teams we are chearing for this week.

Current Divisional Leaders (records in () are overall, conference, divisional)

1. NFC North - Chicago (9-2, 7-0, 3-0) - The Bears lost, but to an AFC team so it was ultimately meaningless as they still hold a 2 game lead for home field and conference record probably won't be matched so it is basically a 3 game lead. I don't see that kind of collapse in this Bear team, especially with their remaining schedule.
2. NFC South - New Orleans (7-4, 6-1, 4-1) - New Orleans is the surprise team of this year. With a home game vs. SanFran this week they look to stay close to the Bears in case they do slip just a bit.
3. NFC West - Seattle (7-4, 6-3, 3-1) - Survived a scare through 3 qtrs on Monday night, but this team is 0nly getting stronger as we get into December. Essentially a 3 game lead on the division makes this team almost as safe as Chicago.
4. NFC East - Dallas (7-4, 4-3, 1-3) - The Giants are fading and the Cowboys are surging with Romo under center and TO dropping passes. Still a weak divisional record leaves the door open for NYG, but they are up for now and have an oportunity to widen the gap with a game at New York this week.

Wild Card (overall, NFC record)

Things tightened this week for wild card hopefuls. Philly, SanFran, Atlanta all dropped while MN and STL gained ground making in more of a cluster as we head into December.

5. IN - NY Giants (6-5, 5-2) - 3 straight losses has bumped the Giants from an NFC contender to just another mediocre NFC team. Their next 3 weeks will tell us a LOT as they take on 3 other playofff contenders.
Key games Dal(wk13), @Car(wk14), vPhi(wk15). H2H Tiebreakers Atl, Dal, Phi
6. IN -Carolina (6-5, 4-4) - This is the team Vikings fans wanted to see on the WC list not a Divisional leader. Carolina has few H2H tiebreakers and most importantly lost to MN. And they finish their season with 2 road divisional games. Carolina is holding on but just barely.
Key games @Phi(wk13) vNYG(wk14) @Atl(wk 16) @NO(wk17). H2H Tiebreakers Stl

7. OUT - Minnnesota (5-6, 5-3) - Back in the win column and some help throughout the NFC has put MN 1 game out of the WC. As I've always stated we have solid tie breakers but a 4-1 finish is still likely what they'll need to extend their season. This week vs. the Bears would be a HUGE win but we can recover from a loss, it just makes things a bit harder.
Key games @Chi
(wk13) (wk16) vSTL(wk17). H2H Tiebreaker - Car, Sea
8. OUT - Philadelphia (5-6, 4-3) - The Eagles still have life but it is more vegetative without McNabb. With 4 of their remaining games vs. playoff contenders I think we need to hope for 1 or 2 key upsets that will help MN without letting Philly sneak in to a WC spot.
Key games vCar(wk13) @NYG(wk15) @Dal(wk16) vAtl(wk17). H2H Tiebreaker - GB, SF
9. OUT - SanFrancisco (5-6, 4-3) - I think SF edges out Stl because of better divisional record, but sitting 9th or 10th is essentially the same thing. Trips to Seattle and to Denver likely will doom the improved 49ers.
Key Games @NO(wk13), vGB(wk14) @Sea(wk15). H2H Tiebreaker - Min
10. St. Louis (5-6, 4-4) - Leapfrogged Atlanta, but still looking up at too many teams. The Rams have a few easier games left on their schedule so they'll probably move higher on the list before they move down. Week 17 in Minnesota might determine the playoff lives of those teams.
Key games vChi(wk14) @MN(wk17). H2H Tiebreaker - GB
11. OUT - Atlanta (5-6, 3-4) - The frustration mounts and the freefall continues for the Falcons. Next 2 weeks are winnable but on the road so that may be a lot to overcome for this struggling team.
Key games vDal(wk15) vCar(wk16) @Phi(wk17). H2H Tiebreaker - none

Green Bay (4-7, 3-5) - Going 5-0 to finish the year might not be enough considering they have no H2H tiebreakers. Time to start planning for post Favre in paint thinner territory.

Vikings fans games to watch (in order of importance)...

  • Philadelphia over Carolina - I don't think Philly will catch us and we need Carolina to lose 1 more game than MN in the next 5 weeks
  • New Orleans over SanFran - we can't catch NO, SF has H2H over us and we need NO to maintain Divisional lead over Car
  • Dallas over NYGiants - we can't catch Dal, bring NYG back to pack so we can land that 1st WC spot and breath easier over the last couple weeks
  • Arizona over St. Louis - get Stl out of the picture so they have nothing to play for in wk 17
  • Washington over Atlanta - also get Atl out of the picture

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