Handicapping the NFC Wild Card Race

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Bears vs. Packers

If the play-offs started today we would see Da Bears and the Detroit Lions as the NFC’s wild card teams. The Lions have certainly been this year’s surprise team, and they’ve given us something good and wholesome and brisk (Eminem, I named dropped your endorsement) to cheer for this season.

What could be more fun then having reinvigorated Detroit fans yelling for their team in NFL post season play and filling a void that was usually occupied by Detroit fans yelling “DETROIT BASKETBALL” during this time of year?

Ah, gotta love the Motor City’s new found heroes. That is unless you’re not an Ndamukong Suh fan. Oh wait, sorry Roger Goodell’s calling. And yeah, this time they are talking about a game.  Not practice. Alright, enough poking fun—let’s get down to business and figure out which NFC teams are still in the wild card hunt.

The Falcons and Buccaneers are clipping on the heels of their two foes in the NFC North division. All four teams have a 4 and 3 record, but as these next few weeks unfold, some teams may see their postseason hopes come crashing down.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Up next for this team are their division rivals, the New Orleans Saints, and then they get the AFC South’s first place Houston Texans. Good news, they get them at home. Bad news, they still have Aaron Rodgers and the Packers left on their schedule and the Falcons on the road to end their season.

But a sliver of hope? Besides Green Bay and Atlanta, 3 of the Buc’s opponents currently having losing records: Carolina, Jacksonville and America’s team—the Dallas Cowboys. And guess what? The Bucs still get two gimme games against Carolina…well, they should be freebies unless the Bucs pull a New Orleans and lose to a team they’re clearly better than (in case you “Who Dat” fans have amnesia, check the box score for Week 8).

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons

Five of the Falcons next 8 games are in the Peach State under their own dome.  If they can protect their home turf, things will could be sweet and sunny for the Georgia squad. Bad news for Atlanta? They still have to take on the Saints twice, and of their four road games left, the Texans are one of them. I think the absolute best case scenario for the Falcons would be to finish the season 7 and 2, with their only losses being to the Saints. How likely is this? Not very.

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears

The Bears are in a pretty good position right now, and their two toughest games left on the schedule are a Soldier Field soiree with the Detroit Lions and a match at Lambeau Field against division rival and uber Cheesehead-tastic rival Green Bay on Christmas. I’m sure they’re looking for that W under the Christmas tree.

As for their other games?  After the Lions they have their “Over .500” slate against the Chargers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. If they can come out of that stretch unscathed and take care of the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and Vikings, they’ll be in very good shape, and their wild card spot will be nice and toasty. This week’s game against Philadelphia could be a trap game of sorts, though, if Lovie’s men aren’t careful.

Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions

America is lovin’ the Lions, it seems, but secretly are you watching with your nerves in a bundle? Will a collapse during the second half of the season happen? Don’t forget, Detroit still has to face the red-hot Packers not once but twice, and road games against the Bears and Saints won’t be easy. A 4-4 finish in these next 8 games is possible; a 2-6 finish would be disastrous, but a 6-2 finish would be optimal.

The Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles

Last week’s win over the Cowboys gave the team a confidence boost that was very much needed. Such high hopes were had for this apparent “dream team,” but have fallen pretty low. I have a feeling that Vick and the Eagles have put a little extra fuel in their tanks, and they’re really gonna need it—they’ve still got the Bears, Giants, Jets and Patriots left on their schedule.

 

 

 

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