NFL Predictions: NFC Race to the Postseason – Week 12

NFL Predictions: NFC Race to the Postseason – Week 12
Thu 3rd December 2020

With just five weeks remaining of the NFL season, the NFC playoff picture is no clearer than it was in our week seven analysis and things have certainly changed in the standings. 

Here is the current standings in the NFC after Week 12 action:

Team Record NFC Championship Odds
New Orleans Saints 9-2 +230
Green Bay Packers 8-3 +400
Seattle Seahawks 8-3 +400
New York Giants 4-7 +5000
Los Angeles Rams 7-4 +650
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5 +650
Arizona Cardinals 6-5 +1800
Minnesota Vikings 5-6 +3500
Chicago Bears 5-6 +6600
San Francisco 49ers 5-6 +3500
Detroit Lions 4-7 +30000
Washington Football Team 4-7 +10000
Atlanta Falcons 4-7 +40000
Carolina Panthers 4-8 +45000
Philadelphia Eagles 3-7-1 +10000
Dallas Cowboys 3-8 +15000

We have analysed every team in the NFC playoff race, their remaining schedule and their likely finishing position which will determine the postseason matchups. Check it all out below:

New Orleans Saints (9-2)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +550
Odds to win NFC Championship: +230
Odds to win NFC South: -10000

After a Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans has won eight on the trot, including their last two without the injured Drew Brees. 

They have just one game remaining against a team with a winning record, however three of their last five are on the road. With no timetable for Brees’ return, the Saints are lucky that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have dropped their last two to give them breathing room at the top of the NFC South.

The Week 15 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs and Week 16 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, just five days later, stick out as massive danger games for the Saints, especially if Brees isn’t back from injury. 

New Orleans could afford to lose both games and still win the NFC South, locking in a top three finish in the NFC, however one loss could cost them top of the NFC and the wildcard bye. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Atlanta Falcons
Week 14: @ Philadelphia Eagles
Week 15: vs Kansas City Chiefs
Week 16: vs Minnesota Vikings
Week 17: @ Carolina Panthers

Green Bay Packers (8-3)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +950
Odds to win NFC Championship: +400
Odds to win NFC North: -5000

After a 4-0 start, the Green Bay Packers have faltered a bit of late, going just 4-3 since. In saying that, their losses came against the Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts and divisional rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. 

The Packers have been dominant behind Aaron Rodgers who is leading the league in touchdowns and quarterback rating. His connection with Davante Adams has been unstoppable at times, with Adams being tied for second most receiving touchdowns with 11. 

Their schedule is slightly easier than both the Saints and the Seattle Seahawks plus they hold the tiebreaker against New Orleans. 

Green Bay is in the best position, of the three main divisional leaders, to win the games they need to in order to get top spot of the NFC and the wildcard bye. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Philadelphia Eagles
Week 14: @ Detroit Lions
Week 15: vs Carolina Panthers
Week 16: vs Tennessee Titans
Week 17: @ Chicago Bears

Seattle Seahawks (8-3)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +900
Odds to win NFC Championship: +400
Odds to win NFC West: -228

The hottest starting team in the NFC, Seattle were once 5-0 but their defensive inabilities caught up with them and have been just 3-3 since. 

The Seahawks are typically very defensive minded teams, however this season Seattle is on pace to allow the most yards per game in NFL history. Luckily, things have been different of late with some key players returning from injury and the unit starting to gel a lot better. 

On the other side of the ball, Russ has the offense cooking. Seattle is in the top three for yards per game and points per game, while Russ has been an MVP candidate all season long. 

Seattle has three easy games against teams with losing records that should leave the Seahawks sitting at 11-3 with two tough divisional games to round out the year, at home against the Rams and on the road against the 49ers. 

Seattle must beat the Rams in Week 16 to win the division, and if they do that, they’ll need a Packers loss and the Saints to drop two in order to take over the NFC. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs New York Giants
Week 14: vs New York Jets
Week 15: @ Washington Football Team
Week 16: vs Los Angeles Rams
Week 17: @ San Francisco 49ers

New York Giants (4-7)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +10000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +5000
Odds to win NFC East: +200

The lucky team on top of the NFC East this week, the 4-7 Giants jumped to lead the division after just scraping over the line against the Burrow-less Bengals in Week 12. 

Looking forward however, things won’t be easy for the Giants with their next four opponents all having winning records, before finishing the season at home against Dallas. Despite being on top of the division at the moment, New York could easily go 0-5 to end the year.

Both Philadelphia and Washington have easier remaining schedules than the Giants and only one extra loss is all that it would take to end their postseason dreams.

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Seattle Seahawks
Week 14: vs Arizona Cardinals
Week 15: vs Cleveland Browns
Week 16: @ Baltimore Ravens
Week 17: vs Dallas Cowboys

Los Angeles Rams (7-4)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +1600
Odds to win NFC Championship: +650
Odds to win NFC West: +225

With their first home loss of the season in week 12, the Los Angeles Rams made things very difficult for themselves. After having an equal record with Seattle and holding the tiebreaker against them, the Rams could have had top spot of the division as long as they kept winning. 

San Francisco came into town to beat the Rams for the second time this season and with a Seattle win over the Eagles, Los Angeles are now a game back from top of the NFC West. To make things worse, they have three games against a team with a winning record remaining. 

One more loss is enough for the Rams to miss out on an opportunity to win the division, but they should only need to beat the Cardinals in one of their two remaining matchups to lock in a postseason spot, assuming they beat the lowly New England Patriots and New York Jets. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Arizona Cardinals
Week 14: vs New England Patriots
Week 15: vs New York Jets
Week 16: @ Seattle Seahawks
Week 17: vs Arizona Cardinals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +1600
Odds to win NFC Championship: +650
Odds to win NFC South: +1600

Although they have been against very tough opponents, the Buccaneers have dropped two straight heading into their bye. 

Three point losses to both the Rams and the Chiefs aren’t the end of the world, but Brady has looked disconnected from his receivers and the lack of a running game is a glaring issue. 

The bye has come at the perfect time for this team to get some reps in and work some things out ahead of what they are hoping is a deep postseason run. 

The Minnesota Vikings in week 14 are their only remaining challenge, but this side should finish the year with four straight wins to sit at 11-5. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: vs Minnesota Vikings
Week 15: @ Atlanta Falcons
Week 16: @ Detroit Lions
Week 17: vs Atlanta Falcons

Arizona Cardinals (6-5)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +4000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +1800
Odds to win NFC West: +1400

Kyler Murray is injured and the Arizona Cardinals have suffered because of it. Losers of their last two, the Cardinals went from on top of the NFC West to two games back and only one game ahead of missing out on the postseason. 

Only two games against an opponent with a winning record might seem like a blessing, however their schedule is tougher that the numbers suggest. 

Three divisional matchups remaining, including two against the Rams, will all be tough contests. Their other two opponents, the Giants and Eagles, both need to keep winning for a chance to top the NFC East. 

Given they have a one game buffer on the teams on the outside looking in, the Cardinals can afford to lose one, maybe even two, games down the stretch and still qualify for the last wildcard spot. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Los Angeles Rams
Week 14: @ New York Giants
Week 15: vs Philadelphia Eagles
Week 16: vs San Francisco 49ers
Week 17: @ Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings (5-6)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +7000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +3500
Odds to win NFC North: +2200

A tale of two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, going just 1-5 before their bye and are 4-1 since. Sitting one game behind the Cardinals for the last wildcard slot, the Vikings have their work cut out for them. 

The Vikings should take care of Jacksonville, Chicago and Detroit, especially given only the latter of the three is on the road. The test is travelling to take on the Buccaneers and Saints. 

The Vikings will be underdogs in both contests and need to win one at an absolute minimum to have a chance at the wildcard slot, but will need to win both if the Cardinals only drop one game. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 14: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 15: vs Chicago Bears
Week 16: @ New Orleans Saints
Week 17: @ Detroit Lions

Chicago Bears (5-6)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +15000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +6600
Odds to win NFC North: +3300

After a 5-1 start, the Chicago Bears have come crashing back down to earth and are losers of five on the trot. Chicago has an above average defense that keeps them in most games, but their offense is just plain awful. 

Whether it is Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky in the starting quarterback role, the Bears have become incapable of putting together a solid enough offensive effort to win games. 

The Bears could very well go, and should go for that matter, 3-2 to end the season, with winnable games against Detroit, Houston and Jacksonville. That isn’t enough to get them a wildcard slot though. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Detroit Lions
Week 14: vs Houston Texans
Week 15: @ Minnesota Vikings
Week 16: @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 17: vs Green Bay Packers

San Francisco 49ers (5-6)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +8000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +3500
Odds to win NFC West: +8000

After making the Super Bowl last season, injuries have derailed the 49ers chance of going one step further this year. 

Losers of three in a row before a shock upset over the Rams, the 49ers looked done for the season. They now find themselves only one game behind the Cardinals for the last wildcard slot and the team still has life. 

With three of their last five coming against teams that are currently in the playoffs, including a Week 16 matchup with the Cardinals. If the Niners manage to be 3-0 at that stage, that game could very well determine who gets the wildcard slot… 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Buffalo Bills
Week 14: vs Washington Football Team
Week 15: @ Dallas Cowboys
Week 16: @ Arizona Cardinals
Week 17: vs Seattle Seahawks

NFC EAST

Washington Football Team (4-7)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +10000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +5000
Odds to win NFC East: +220

Tied for the lead in the NFC East, Washington is only second due to losing both games to the top placed Giants this season. 

Washington’s defense is the best in the division and has been the main reason they are in the position they are. However they won’t have, and can’t rely on, the sort of offensive outburst they had against a lackluster Dallas outfit on Thanksgiving. 

Only having two games against teams with a winning record is a big tick over New York who has four such games and Philadelphia who has three. The Cowboys only have one such game but with Washington having a one game edge and the tiebreaker, Dallas would need to make up two games, not just the one. 

Assuming Philadelphia loses to teams with a better record over the next three weeks, all Washington needs to do is beat Carolina in Week 16 to set up a  Week 17 winner takes all matchup against the Eagles. 

If they win that, which we think they will, Washington will be 6-10 and representing the NFC East in the postseason. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 14: @ San Francisco 49ers
Week 15: vs Seattle Seahawks
Week 16: vs Carolina Panthers
Week 17: @ Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +10000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +4500
Odds to win NFC East: +250

With many expecting Philadelphia to win the division, they now sit third and half a game back, with their third most difficult remaining schedule of the NFC East. 

Only needing to win one more game than Washington sounds easy on paper, but the next three weeks could ruin that for them. Travelling to Green Bay and Arizona, with a visit from the Saints sandwiched between those two could easily be an 0-3 stretch for the Eagles. 

They would then have to beat Dallas and Washington in the last two to finish on top of the division. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Green Bay Packers
Week 14: vs New Orleans Saints
Week 15: @ Arizona Cardinals
Week 16: @ Dallas Cowboys
Week 17: vs Washington Football Team 

Dallas Cowboys (3-8)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +15000
Odds to win NFC Championship: +8000
Odds to win NFC East: +500

A Thanksgiving matchup at home against divisional rivals Washington was the perfect opportunity for Dallas to make their claim for the NFC East crown. However, they rolled over and let Washington gut them. 

They have the easiest remaining schedule, but would need to win four games to claim top spot, assuming that Washington wins just two. 

That means beating Cincinnati, Philadelphia, the Giants and one of Baltimore or San Francisco. Never say never, especially given how this year and that division has been, but the Cowboys are done. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Baltimore Ravens
Week 14: @ Cincinnati Bengals
Week 15: vs San Francisco 49ers
Week 16: vs Philadelphia Eagles
Week 17: @ New York Giants

NFL Predictions

Green Bay wins out to take top spot in the NFC, with New Orleans dropping a game to Kansas City. Both teams sit one game ahead of Seattle who drops a game to a desperate 49ers outfit in Week 17, but keeps control of the NFC West. 

Washington does just enough to win the disastrous NFC East, setting up a tough wildcard round matchup with Los Angeles Rams, who finish 11-5 and in fifth place.

The Buccaneers win out to finish 11-5, setting up a trip to Seattle on wildcard weekend. The Cardinals lose two games down the stretch but hang on to the final wildcard slot, setting up a nightmare matchup in New Orleans.

Check out our final predicted standings below:

Team Record NFC Championship Odds
Green Bay Packers 13-3 +400
New Orleans Saints 13-3 +230
Seattle Seahawks 12-4 +400
Washington Football Team 4-7 +5000
Los Angeles Rams 11-5 +650
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-5 +650
Arizona Cardinals 9-7 +1800

Wildcard Round

Bye – (1) Green Bay Packers
(7) Arizona Cardinals @ (2) New Orleans Saints
(6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ (3) Seattle Seahawks
(5) Los Angeles Rams @ (4) Washington Football Team

Divisional Round

(3) Seattle Seahawks @ (2) New Orleans Saints
(5) Los Angeles Rams @ (1) Green Bay Packers

NFC Championship

(5) Los Angeles Rams @ (2) New Orleans Saints

NFC Champions – (2) New Orleans Saints (+230)

*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of PointsBet.

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Tim is a keen follower of all American sports, in particular the NBA and NFL. He has followed both sports for over a decade and would happily sit down and watch every game, regardless of who is playing! No matter the sport, whether it be NFL and NBA or even MLB, NHL and UFC, Tim covers it from every angle, keeping up to date with all the news to bring you the most up-to-date information and the best picks and predictions across all sports.