Falcons (12-3): They have a playoff spot secured but squandered a chance to clinch the NFC South title and the NFC’s top playoff seed when they lost at home Monday night against the Saints. They still get the top seed if they beat the Panthers today, but Monday’s defeat showed that home-field advantage doesn’t guarantee playoff success.
Bears (11-4): There’s something not quite trustworthy about this team, but the Bears have clinched the NFC North and will be the second seed in the NFC playoffs unless they beat the Packers and the Falcons and Saints both lose.
Eagles (10-5): They’ve clinched the NFC East title and the No. 3 seed.
Saints (11-4): The defending champs probably will have to settle for a wild-card berth unless they beat the Buccaneers and the Panthers shock the Falcons.
They’re looking good
Packers (9-6): They’re coming off an impressive triumph over the Giants, and they don’t need help from anyone else to reach the postseason. The Packers clinch a wild-card spot if they beat the Bears today.
They're still hoping
Giants (9-6): They need to beat the Redskins and have the Packers lose to the Bears. It’s certainly possible. But the Giants have faltered of late, losing to the Eagles despite having a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, then succumbing to the Packers. If the Giants don’t reach the playoffs, there surely will be plenty of talk, justified or not, that coach Tom Coughlin’s job is in jeopardy.
Buccaneers (9-6): The Buccaneers must win in New Orleans, and both the Packers and Giants must lose. It’s been a fine turnaround season for the franchise, even if it doesn’t result in a playoff appearance.
Rams (7-8): They can reach .500 and save the dignity of the NFC West if they win tonight at Seattle. That would give the Rams the division title and prevent a team with a losing record from reaching the postseason for the first time. The Rams have ridden the play of rookie QB Sam Bradford back to respectability after totaling six wins in the previous three seasons combined.
Seahawks (6-9): They’ve lost three straight and five of their past six games. All five defeats in that six-game span have been by at least 15 points. Their lone victory in those six games was against the Panthers, who are 2-13. Yet the Seahawks will win the NFC West if they beat the Rams, which would make them the first losing team to reach the NFL playoffs in a non-strike season.