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Warpath To The Postseason: NFL Week 13

Let’s take a look at the road ahead to the playoffs through week 12 in the NFL.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Now things are starting to get interesting. The Washington Redskins (6-3-1) entered their matchup with Dallas knowing they could do no worse than maintaining their position as the NFC’s sixth seed at the end of week 12 action. However, with a win by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5), the margin for error going forward shrinks due to the half-game lead they hold courtesy of their tie against the Bengals. The Vikings (also 6-5) fell in a heart-breaker at the final gun on Thursday, though in the event a tie-breaker comes into play for the Redskins (it won’t), Washington has the advantage with the head-to-head win.

With five games left to play, the Redskins trail the Cowboys by three and a half games, and are a game and a half back of the Giants following their 27-13 win over the Browns. While Washington’s chances of repeating as division champs are now incredibly slim, they remain in the driver’s seat to make the playoffs as a wild card.

First, let’s take a look at the standings in the NFC:

1 East 10-1-0
2 West 7-3-1
3 North 7-4-0
4 South 7-4-0
5 East 8-3-0
6 East 6-4-1

7 South 6-5-0
8 North 6-5-0
9 South 5-6-0
10 North 5-6-0
11 East 5-6-0
12 West 4-6-1
13 South 4-7-0
14 West 4-7-0
15 North 2-9-0

16 West 1-10-0

So long 49ers!

For the third straight week, there is no movement in the top 6 in the NFC. All the East teams remain in the picture, though the Seahawks lead has shrunk to a half game over the Lions and Falcons. Detroit is ahead of Atlanta based on conference record (5-2 to the Falcons' 5-3). Meanwhile, New Orleans holds the tie-breaker among the 5-6 squads based on best win percentage in conference games.

Washington’s playoff stock dropped back down to 46% from 56% following this week’s action according to Five Thirty Eight.

Our friends over at Pride of Detroit put together this nifty table to help size up the road ahead in the NFC over the final five weeks of the regular season:

Strength of schedule Opponents
Seahawks 0.315 vs. CAR, @GB, vs. LA, vs. ARI, at SF
Falcons 0.400 vs. KC, @LA, vs. SF, @ CAR, vs. NO
Washington 0.426 .@ARI, @PHI, vs. CAR, @CHI, vs. NYG
Vikings 0.426 vs. DAL, @JAX, vs. IND, @GB, vs. CHI
Packers 0.508 .@PHI, vs. HOU, vs. SEA, @CHI, vs. MIN, @DET
Buccaneers 0.527 .@SD, vs. NO, @DAL, @NO, vs. CAR
Cardinals 0.527 vs. WAS, @MIA, vs. NO, @SEA, @LA
Lions 0.537 .@NO, vs. CHI, @NYG, @DAL, vs. GB
Saints 0.545 vs. DET, @TB, @ARI, vs. TB, @ATL
Eagles 0.569 vs. GB, @CIN, vs. WAS, @BAL, vs. NYG, vs. DAL
Cowboys 0.593 .@MIN, @NYG, vs. TB, vs. DET, @PHI
Giants 0.630 .@PIT, vs. DAL, vs. DET, @PHI, @WAS

Definitely some good news there for the burgundy and gold. On top of having the third-easiest road ahead, it’s highly unlikely that anything the Seahawks or Falcons do will have any material impact on Washington. Obvious teams to scoreboard watch over the coming weeks include the Buccaneers (6-5-0), Vikings (6-5-0), Eagles (5-6), Packers (5-6), and Saints (5-6-0). Things also become a lot more exciting (depending on your definition of that word) based on the outcome of the Redskins’ matchup next week on the road against the Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1).

AFC Standings:

1 East 9-2-0
2 West 9-2-0
3 North 6-5-0
4 South 6-5-0
5 West 8-3-0
6 East 7-4-0

7 West 7-4-0
8 North 6-5-0
9 East 6-5-0
10 South 6-6-0
11 South 5-6-0
12 West 5-6-0
13 North 3-7-1
14 East 3-8-0
15 South 2-9-0

16 North 0-12-0

The Raiders have guaranteed their first winning season in 14 years, but New England has retaken the top seed ahead of Oakland based on conference record (7-1 to the Raiders' 6-1). The Ravens (6-5-0) move up to the 3 seed after they closed out their win over the Bengals with a hug-fest, holding their AFC North lead based on head to head (1-0), and moving ahead of Houston based on conference record (6-2 to the Texans' 4-4). The Dolphins move into the 6th seed based on conference record (5-3 to the Broncos' 4-3), though ten AFC teams remain at .500 or above.

NFL Playoff Picture - Week 12
CBS Sports