The image of the 2021 NFL playoffs is starting to take shape with 13 weeks of NFL games on the books. And the NFC, in particular, is expected to host a circus of a wild card race, with nearly a dozen teams potentially battling for three playoff spots. As week 14 approaches, which teams look the most formidable in the race? We take stock of the entire pool of them.
Find the current leaders of the NFC division below, along with our rankings of current wild card contenders:
Current leaders of the NFC division
These can obviously change by the end of the season, but for now these favorites are stuck:
- Cardinals (10-2)
- Packers (9-3)
- Buccaneers (9-3)
- cowboys (8-4)
NFC Wildcard Candidates, Ranked
This is how we would sort the obvious candidates, but just keep in mind Three of them can actually make the playoffs:
1. Rams (8-4)
Remaining time: to the Cardinals, against the Seahawks, to the Vikings, to the Ravens, against the 49ers
They are finally back after riding the Jaguars. While there is certainly cause for concern with Matthew Stafford and Co. in the big spots (they have a real test of a schedule in the home stretch), they are too talented on the roster and on the key to be ignored.
Remaining time: at the Bengals, against the Falcons, at the Titans, against the Texans, at the Rams
They are sort of what they are: mediocre when Jimmy Garoppolo has to fight his way to victory, and rambling when he doesn’t. It will help when Deebo Samuel returns, but their secondary lack of depth won’t go away anytime soon. Kyle Shanahan gets the green light on some other teams here just because he has a long playoff run under his belt.
3. Washington (6-6)
Remaining time: against Cowboys, at Eagles, at Cowboys, against Eagles, at Giants
Taylor Heinicke is at his best at spreading it and controlling the clock, but their attack still has a low cap. And yet, coupled with Ron Rivera’s increasingly stingy defense, they’ve had four straight wins for a reason. They can win lousy, and that should scare off their competition.
4. Eagles (6-7)
Remaining time: Goodbye, against Washington, against the Giants, against Washington, against the Cowboys
Next to Washington, they have by far the most feasible path to a wildcard spot, purely in terms of timing. Can Jalen Hurts become a passer in key division games, however? He’s a much more dynamic ground threat than Gardner Minshew, but he needs Nick Sirianni to build on the run (and get some big defense plays) to surprise out of the NFC East.
5. Vikings (5-7)
Remaining time: against Steelers, against Bears, against Rams, against Packers, against Bears
Grief and humiliation hasn’t been hard to come by for these Vikings, whose defense has been an occasional sieve and now have a short week-long game against the tough Steelers after falling in Detroit. But if / when their playmakers are healthy, they still have the firepower to take on anyone. Will they be able to survive their final schedule?
6. Seahawks (4-8)
Remaining time: among the Texans, among the Rams, against the Bears, against the Lions, among the Cardinals
It all comes down to this: Is Russell Wilson comfortable? He looked a lot more at ease in Seattle’s win over the 49ers in Week 13. And if he’s even close to him, they stand a chance, even if their ground play and defense. vulnerable is putting way too much on the quarterback’s shoulders.
7. Saints (5-7)
Remaining time: at Jets, at Buccaneers, against Dolphins, against Panthers, at Falcons
Taysom Hill brought the boom and bust to the Saints offense by replacing Trevor Siemian, and now he’s going to have to play through a finger injury. Their defense always gives them a chance, as does Sean Payton, but they really need to control the ball if they are to make some noise in their last five games.
8. Falcons (5-7)
Remaining time: at Panthers, at 49ers, against Lions, at Bills, against Saints
They surprised against smaller teams and caught up with the best. Lucky for them, the Stumbling Panthers are on deck this week, just in time for a rebound from Matt Ryan.
9. Panthers (5-7)
Remaining time: against Falcons, at Bills, against Buccaneers, at Saints, at Buccaneers
Maybe changing the offensive coordinator will unlock Cam Newton, but we doubt that a bit. They’ve been a bit of a âbark all, no biteâ team this year, teasing their defense early on, then bragging about Cam’s energetic return later, only to get into the final five-game streak with a probable record. of defeats.
Not good enough
These teams aren’t technically out of the pack, but they have a terribly difficult climb like the playoffs:
- giants (4-8): Now Daniel Jones and Mike Glennon are both assaulted. What does Freddie Kitchens have up his sleeve?
- Bear (4-8): What could Matt Nagy show on that home stretch to convince the property he deserves to stay?
Just what he says. These guys are already looking towards 2022:
- the Lions (1-10-1): But at least they can finally celebrate this first victory.
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