Some great thinker, who understood that brevity is wit once said, "Winners win". And that's exactly what happened in the NFC in week 13. The first and second place teams in week 12, all won this week.
In the East, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants both won, and have identical records of 8-4. Meanwhile the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys are 5-7 and 4-8, repectively. Aside from their showdown on Dec.19, Philly has the Vikings at home and Dallas twice. The Giants have to travel to Minnesota, Green Bay, and Washington.
The 'prevailing wisdom' among the shouting heads on the sports channels, is that the second place winners in the NFC East and NFC South will be the wild cards. And looking at the remaining schedules for the Eagles and Giants, you don't see many challenges, except their head to head game in the Meadowlands. It's reasonable to expect both teams to go 3-1 to close out the season.
In the South, the Atlanta Falcons beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday, to go to a league best 10-2. Tampa Bay was the only team above .500, that lost in the NFC this week. Second-place New Orleans Saints won their fifth consecutive game and have the same record as the Chicago Bears, at 9-3. Both of these teams won tough, come from behind games Sunday, and both are streaking. They face each other on Monday Night Football, Dec 27 in Atlanta.
The Saints have a much tougher schedule, with all their opponents being .500 or above, and having to travel to frigid Baltimore in december. By contrast, Atlanta sees the abysmal Carolina Panthers twice, and travel to Seattle to take on the 6-6 Seahawks. It's almost certain that Atlanta will be the number one seed in the NFC playoffs.
Tomorrow : We'll take an in depth look at the Bears and Packers race for the NFC North, and discuss why the rules demand that someone has to win the NFC West.