The NFC playoff picture is beginning to come into focus as the NFL heads into Week 15, with the Philadelphia Eagles becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth this season with a win over the New York Giants in Week 14.
Only the 3-10 Chicago Bears have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, but the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, both 4-9, are clinging to the slimmest sliver of hope and will need miracle runs down the stretch to make the postseason this year.
The 10-3 Dallas Cowboys currently hold the No.5 seed in the NFC as the second-place team in the NFC East behind Philadelphia.
The No.3 and No.4 seeds are held by teams with worse records than Dallas that lead their divisions.
The San Francisco 49ers are atop the NFC West at 9-4 and are showing plenty of promise with Brock Purdy under center. The NFC South-leading 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the No.4 spot despite having the worst record among teams currently in a playoff spot.
In a representation of how challenging the NFC East has been this season, the Giants and Washington Commanders, both 7-5-1, currently hold the No.6 and No.7 seeds, giving all four NFC East teams a spot in the playoffs if the season ended today. Still, the season has four weeks to go, and it will be nearly impossible for all four NFC East teams to make the playoffs.
The Eagles have yet to clinch the division and still must play the Giants and the Cowboys. Losses in either game could have significant ramifications for the division.
The Cowboys currently hold a tie with Philadelphia for the best division record and will play the Eagles on Christmas Eve before facing the Commanders in the season finale. Washington plays New York for the second time in three weeks after a much-needed bye in Week 14.
The Minnesota Vikings, at 10-3, hold the No.2 seed in the NFC and will likely win the NFC North.
Two of the three other teams in the NFC North are still technically alive, but at 6-7, the Detroit Lions are essentially one loss from statistical elimination. The Green Bay Packers are in worse shape at 5-8, with calls for Jordan Love to take over at quarterback over Aaron Rodgers.
The final two Vikings games of the season will be contests against Green Bay and Chicago, both of whom will be eager to play spoiler for their division rival.
The 49ers are dominating the NFC West and showed this week that they can demolish just about any team in the league, crushing the Buccaneers 35-7, even with the rookie Purdy taking over from an injured Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. Purdy was taken with the final selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, earning him the honorary title of “Mr. Irrelevant.”
The 7-6 Seattle Seahawks are very much in the thick of things for a Wild Card berth, but the road for the 4-8 Cardinals and the 4-9 Rams seems like it may have run its course. The 49ers play against Seattle on Thursday in what could be a pivotal game for the division.
The NFC South has been one of the weakest divisions this season. Even with Tom Brady making his retirement return, the Bucs have shown little threat of mounting a serious run, but with the Panthers and the Saints just one game behind, the South could be a toss-up until the conclusion of the regular season.