Drew Brees, Saints
USA Today

NFC playoff picture, Week 10: Cowboys, Vikings play critical game

The NFC playoff picture is a circus. A high-flying, unpredictable circus.

Through nine weeks, few things have been settled. The New Orleans Saints are going to win the NFC South, and the San Francisco 49ers are reaching the postseason either as a wild card team or division winner. Of course, there is a damn big difference between having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs or being on the road come the first weekend of January.

Going into the madness, here’s how the NFC playoff picture looks:

1. San Francisco 49ers (8-0)
2. New Orleans Saints (7-1)
3. Green Bay Packers (7-2)
4. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
5. Seattle Seahawks (7-2)
6. Minnesota Vikings (6-3)

7. Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
8. Carolina Panthers (5-3)

 

 

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The best tilt of the week comes Monday night, with the 49ers hosting the Seahawks. If Seattle wins, it would remain a half-game back in the NFC West and a full game in the loss column, but would also control its own destiny. The two teams have a rematch later in the year, and the Seahawks will be hosting.

On Sunday night, the Cowboys and Vikings square off in a contest rife with playoff implications. Dallas is playing on a short week after taking down the lowly New York Giants on Monday night at the Meadowlands. Minnesota is trying to get right after being thwarted in the final seconds by the Kansas City Chiefs, despite Matt Moore being the opponent while Patrick Mahomes recovered from a knee injury. If Minnesota loses, there is a good chance it will fall out of the top six seeds.

 

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In Green Bay, the Packers and Panthers meet in a critical affair for both sides. After being hammered by the Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay desperately needs to get right and take down Carolina if it wants realistic hopes of a first-round bye in the playoffs. As for the Panthers, a win on the road over the Packers would go a long way towards getting in as a wild card team.

Finally, the Saints have a layup this weekend, drawing the miserable one-win Atlanta Falcons. Oh, and it’s off a bye, in the Superdome.

The Rams have a tougher draw, getting the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Los Angeles is also coming off a bye, and needs to improve offensively behind Jared Goff and Todd Gurley to make a run. It stands now for Sean McVay and Co.

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