I'm proud to present to you the second installment of this weekly feature. So now, with no further ado, here is the current NFC wild card race:
1. Atlanta Falcons (5-4)
1. New York Giants (5-4)
1. Green Bay Packers (5-4)
1. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
(Bears, 49'ers @ 4-5, Panthers @ 4-6)
Wow, what a pile-up! We have seven teams between 4-6 and 5-4 in the NFC, leaving the race practically wide open. The division leaders in the NFC are a combined 29-7, so I don't think many of the Wild Card teams will be catching them.
What we want, as Packers fans, is some clarity: seeing the Packers and one other team pull away from the rest of the field convincingly over the next few weeks. We have games against the 49'ers and Lions in the next 5 days, so it'll be important to win both of them, and also to have some strategic losses by other teams. Let's begin....
1a. The Panthers already helped the Pack by losing this Thursday to the Dolphins, dropping them to 4-6, and all but eliminating them from the playoffs. Always root for the AFC in a NFC/AFC matchup.
1b. The Redskins are in Dallas (technically Irvine) to play the Cowboys @ 12 pm central. Root for the Cowboys. The loss would drop the Redskins firmly to the basement at 3-7, and boost the Cowboys to 7-3, making them clearer NFC East leaders.
2. The Falcons are at the Meadowlands to play the NY Giants @ 12 pm central. This is a tough one, as both teams are currently tied with the Packers for the Wild Card lead. Root for a freak snowstorm to render the field unplayable. And, well, if that doesn't happen (I was 4/4 last week, after all), I guess you should root for the Falcons. The loss would put the Giants in a official tailspin, dropping them to 5-5 after starting 5-0. I don't think many teams have made it to the playoffs after losing 5 straight games. Assuming that gets rid of the Giants, we can root for the Falcons to lose every other week.
3. The Eagles travel to Soldier Field to take on the Bears on Sunday Night Football. Again, another very tough one. While an Eagles loss would be good for the Packers, a Bears win would push them to quasi-contender status @ 5-5. Hmmm. I would still root for the Bears. Based on what I've seen from them (cough, 17 INT's, cough) this year, I really don't see much to worry about, and the Packers still have a game left against them this year, controlling their own fate. The Eagles and their explosive offense worry me, so a loss for them is ultimately good.
4. The Packers must beat the 49'ers this afternoon. Playoff teams win these kind of games, and we need to build on the great game last week. It's time to step up, guys.
5. A list of games that have very little importance but are still worth noting:
Cards vs. Rams (3:05): Root for the Cards.
Here's your NFC Playoff picture if eveything goes right today:
1. Packers (6-4)
1. Falcons (6-4)
2. NY Giants (5-5)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
2. Chicago Bears (5-5)
(49'ers, Panthers @ 4-6)
Looks pretty good to me. Here's hoping we have a repeat of last week's performance.