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NFC Playoff Picture Before Week 17

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By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer

The NFC has played some really thrilling football this season. Entering the playoffs there are teams that were not expected to be there a year ago and teams that should be in it that aren’t.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

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Nick Foles (Getty Images)

Who would have guessed that Eagles would be in the No.1 spot in the NFL going into the playoffs? Even after phenomenon second-year quarterback, Carson Wentz went down, the team still found a way to win with second-string quarterback Nick Foles.

The team also seems to be stacked at every position. The Eagles have no one but two very good, downhill running backs in both LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. Both running backs have split carries and have been productive on the ground.

The Eagles have a strong receiving core, destructive defensive line and solid defensive secondary. The team simply feels complete, even without Wentz the team has a shot at going all the way.

Even though the game was not a shining moment of glory, the Eagles did manage to clinch home-field advantage last week against the Oakland Raiders. Opposing teams coming to Philadelphia to play the Eagles will find it hard to win in such a hostile environment.

2. Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

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Case Keenum handing the ball to Latavius Murray. (Getty Images)

The Vikings have been a solid team all year. Even without their first and second quarterbacks, they have managed to win games in convincing and spectacular manners.  Even after losing their electric rookie running back Dalvin Cook, they continued to excel.

The Vikings have proven themselves over and over this season. Third-string quarterback Case Keenum has gone above and beyond this year, proving to be a decent starter this year and helping to lead the Vikings to a playoff berth.

The Vikings offensive line is banged up, but the team still looks good and should be able to make a deep playoff run. They have had their hiccups this season, but they have depth at every position.

If the season ended today, they still have a first-round bye, giving ample time for their banged up players to heal up and be ready to take on the second lowest seed to win their wild-card game.

3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4)

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Cooper Kupp catching a touchdown pass against the Titans last week. (Getty Images)

The Rams are another team that no one expected to be so good this season. Running back Todd Gurley II looks like his rookie self, quarterback Jared Goff looks sharp and rookie receiver Cooper Kupp is the leading receiver on the team that has talent at the receiver position. The team looks scary moving forward.

Two weeks ago they destroyed the Seattle Seahawks, handling their division rivals and the fleet-footed Russell Wilson with ease. They also won a close game against the Tennessee Titans last week.

The Rams have been in their fair share of shootouts this year. In week three they won a nail-biter against the San Francisco 49ers that ended 41-39. The won another shootout the very next week against the Dallas Cowboys that ended 35-30. The only high scoring shootout that the Rams lost this year was the one in week 14 against the Eagles. That game ended 43-35.

All season long the Rams have put up numbers. If the season ended today, they would play the six seed which would be the Atlanta Falcons, which have taken some bad losses this year and have struggled since getting to the super bowl last year.

4. New Orleans Saints (11-4)

Drew Brees continues to be one of the best quarterbacks in the League and his team finally looks like one of the better teams in the League to compliment that. The Saints can’t move higher than the third seed so they will be playing in the wild-card round.

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Drew Brees (Getty Images)

Who they play, if totally up to which team will be the fifth seed going into the playoffs. At the moment, the Carolina Panthers sit in the fifth seed. The Saints have swept their division rivals this season.

In week three, they routed the Panthers with a score of 34-13. In week 13, they beat them again 31-21. If they face off a third time in the playoffs, anything can happen, but it would be safe to say that the Saints will properly beat them a third time.

Brees is nearing the end of his career. The opportunities to get into the playoffs and do something are becoming more and more less likely. Brees is 38 and his performance could drop off at any moment once he gets to 40. The Saints look good this year, let’s see what happens.

First Wild-Card Spot: Carolina Panthers (11-4)

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Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey in the backfield for the Panthers. (Getty Images)

The Panthers could have an interesting post-season if the Falcons beat the Saints in the last week of the season and the Vikings and Rams lose, too. In that scenario, the Panthers could get as high as the No. 2 seed. It’s not entirely likely, but it would mean a first-round bye.

The Panthers are playing for a lot this coming week. Who knows how it will turn out? The Panthers can still win the NFC South. It’ll be interesting moving forward, to say the least. Can Cam Newton rally his team and make some noise this post-season after having some struggles in the regular season.

Second Wild-Care Spot: Atlanta Falcons (9-6)

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Julio Jones (Getty Images)

The Falcons have had a rough season compared to where everyone thought they would be this year. They did not pick up from where they left off last year, but they still have a chance to get into the post-season. If they win against the Panthers, they get into the playoffs and the seeding doesn’t change much moving forward.

If they lose; however, things get interesting because if the Seahawks win, they take the sixth seed in the playoffs and will play the Rams. The Falcons need to win and need if they want to see the post-season and salvage this year. If they don’t make it, this year will be a real disappointment for the entire team.

In the Hunt:

  • Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

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    Russell Wilson evading a possible sack. (Getty Images)

    The Seahawks were pretty much carried by Russell Wilson this year. Wilson elevated this team’s play above and beyond what quarterbacks could ever dream of. He almost single-handedly got the team to this point. If they win their game on Sunday and get into the playoffs with a Falcons loss, who knows what may happen. The Seahawks have been in the playoffs before, the Rams have not been there recently.

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