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NFL Week 11: NFC playoff picture

As the weather continues to grow colder, the National Football League is heating up. With only seven weeks left before the playoff picture is finalized, the NFC has all kinds of questions left to be answered.

So what should we be looking for going into Week 11? Here’s a look at the standings, with analysis afterwards:

1. Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
2. Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1)
3. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
4. Detroit Lions (5-4)
5. New York Giants (6-3)
6. Washington Redskins (5-3-1)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
8. Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
9. Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1)
10. Green Bay Packers (4-5)

There are a couple huge games between these teams coming on Sunday, but let’s get to the simple stuff.

The Detroit Lions are hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars, and are laying 6.5 points. Detroit should be able to roll over Jacksonville, which has all but quit on fourth-year head coach Gus Bradley. The Jaguars, outside perhaps the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, are the worst team in football.

In New Jersey, the Giants will be taking on the 2-7 Chicago Bears. Chicago is all but down for the count after being handled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 36-10, last weekend. New York is playing on a short week but should be able to throttle the Bears, who are without wide receiver Alshon Jeffery following his four-game suspension this week.

Finally, the Cowboys are home to take on the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore is 5-4 and leading the weak AFC North, but nobody believes the Ravens should beat Dallas. The Cowboys might have to go to the air a bit more considering Baltimore’s top run defense, but Dak Prescott should pick on a putrid Ravens secondary.

The two biggest games of the week will be taking place in Washington D.C. and Minnesota. The Redskins will be hosting the Packers on Sunday night at FedEx Field, with the opportunity to throw the knockout punch at Green Bay. After being blown out 47-25 by the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, the Packers look like they are readying for Mike McCarthy’s firing. A defeat to the Redskins could be the end of what has been a wildly disappointing year in Titletown.

Meanwhile, it will feel like a playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium, with the Vikings desperately trying to break a four-game losing streak against the Cardinals. Arizona is 4-4-1 and barely beat the 49ers last weekend at home, needing a game-winning field goal at the final gun. The Cardinals should be much better than their record, but kicking issues and Carson Palmer have kept them down.

Minnesota could be facing the end of the line with another loss. The Vikings can’t protect Sam Bradford and should the Cardinals hit him early and often, the boo birds will be out in full throat.

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