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NFC playoff picture, Week 12: 49ers, Packers battle

This week is going to be wild in the NFL. Great games in primetime. Teams jockeying for playoff positioning. The whole bit.

Here’s how the NFC playoff picture looks going into Week 12, and what you watch for afterwards:

1. San Francisco 49ers (9-1)
2. Green Bay Packers (8-2)
3. New Orleans Saints (8-2)
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-4)
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-2)
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-3)

7. Los Angeles Rams (6-4)
8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
9. Carolina Panthers (5-5)
10. Chicago Bears (4-6)


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The biggest game of the week? Easy. The two best teams in the NFC — at least by seed, anyway — play each other on Sunday night with the Packers in Santa Clara to visit the 49ers. San Francisco has been in the top spot all year long but now faces the toughest test of the season. A loss here coupled with the Seahawks win (we’ll get to them in a second) would drop the 49ers into the No. 5 seed.

Should the Packers win, they move into the top spot and control their own destiny. Aaron Rodgers has the best opportunity he’s had in quite some time to get back to the Super Bowl.

New Orleans would have the opportunity to move into the second slot should the 49ers lose (it would win the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Seahawks based on beating them in Week 3) if it can handle the Panthers. While the Saints lost against an inferior divisional opponent at the Superdome two weeks ago, smart money says it won’t happen twice.

The Cowboys might have the toughest assignment of the weekend, traveling to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots. Dallas isn’t expected to win, but should it go into Gillette Stadium and find a way to do so, the NFC East would take on a new look as the Cowboys suddenly wipe the hardest remaining game off their slate with a win.


Read: Jaguars Coach Doug Marrone Takes The Blame For Getting Away From The Running Game


Finally, Seattle. The Seahawks are in Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. Russell Wilson and Co. are off the bye and if they win, could vault into hosting a playoff game with a Niners loss. Meanwhile, the Eagles desperately need to win, sitting at 5-5 and trailing the Cowboys by a game in the NFC East.

Then there’s the Rams, who host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. If Los Angeles wants any shot of sneaking into the dance, it needs to take down the red-hot Ravens, who are 8-2 and coming off a 41-7 drubbing of the Houston Texans.

Minnesota is on the bye week, while the Bears host Daniel Jones and the New York Giants.

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