Not sure how many of us expected this, but the 6-1 Chicago Bears are currently sitting in the number two position in the NFC playoff hunt. The Atlanta Falcons are still undefeated and holding down the top seed, but Chicago is a game back.
Atlanta has a hard game in week 15 against the Giants, and they are yet to play tough division foes New Orleans or Tampa Bay. The Saints offense is capable of going crazy at any time, and the Bucs may be hitting their stride. Here's how the Falcons schedule plays out;
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Cowboys (3-4), at Saints (2-4), vs. Cardinals (4-3), at Buccaneers (3-4), vs. Saints (2-4), at Panthers (1-6), vs. Giants (6-2), at Lions (3-4), vs. Buccaneers (3-4)
Atlanta's remaining teams currently hold a 27-35 record.
The Bears have a tough stretch coming up that will answer whatever questions fans have about their team. Week 10 they host the Texans followed up by a trip to San Fran. Here's how the Bears schedule looks;
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Titans (3-5), vs. Texans (6-1), at 49ers (5-2), vs. Vikings (5-3), vs. Seahawks (4-4), at Vikings (5-3), vs. Packers (5-3), at Cardinals (4-3), at Lions (3-4)
It would seem like the Bears have a tougher road ahead, as their opponents have a combined record of 40-29. Besides trying to catch Atlanta, the Bears have to contend with holding off their tough NFC North foes.
If the current standings were to remain as is come playoff time, the NFC North would have two additional teams in as wildcards. Both the Packers and Vikings are 5-3 with Minnesota currently holding the 5th seed and Green Bay the #6. I really don't see the Vikings holding on to the 5th seed, and I suspect they'll fall out of the playoff race all together, with the Lions getting themselves back in the mix.
My preseason prediction of the Packers as NFC North champ and the Bears as a wildcard, leads me to believe the Pack will be the Bears toughest test within the division. Here's how Green Bay's remaining schedule looks;
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Cardinals (4-3), at Lions (3-4), at Giants (6-2), vs. Vikings (5-3), vs. Lions (3-4), at Bears (6-1), vs. Titans (3-5), at Vikings (5-3)
The Packers have their bye coming up in week 10, and the record of their combined opponents is 35-25. With the Bears being up 2 in the loss column the pressure will be on Green Bay to keep pace every week.
The Giants and 49ers are both leading their respective divisions and are currently the 3rd and 4th seeds. Tonight's San Fran vs. Arizona game will have playoff ramifications.
As we are close to the midway point of the NFL season, how do you see the NFC race shaking out?
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