The NFC South is kind of a joke.

We just wrapped up Week 12 in the NFL, and a lot of definitive statements can’t be made, but that one is pretty safe. The Carolina Panthers were the only NFC South team not to lose last weekend, and that’s because they were on a bye.

Each team in the division has at least seven losses, which means, of course, the winner — which will host a playoff game — will have a 9-7 record at best. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently are last in the division at 2-9 — and are just two games out of first place and still technically in the hunt.

The NFC North isn’t a great collection of teams, either. However, the Green Bay Packers look ready to seperate themselves from the pack, no pun intended. Green Bay’s win, paired with the Detroit Lions’ blowout loss to the New England Patriots, has the Packers in the driver’s seat in the division. That makes a Week 13 matchup between the Packers and Patriots even more interesting.

It’s never too early to look at and project the playoff picture, so here’s a look at what the field would look like if the playoffs started today.*


First-round byes
1. New England Patriots (9-2)
2. Denver Broncos (8-3)

Wild-card round matchups (Jan. 3-4)
No. 6 San Diego Chargers (7-4) at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1)
No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs at No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (7-4)

Notes: It will be a fight to the finish in the AFC North, as Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland all have 7-4 records behind first-place Cincinnati. The Miami Dolphins still are alive at 6-5, but they certainly could have used a win in Denver this past week.


First-round byes
1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)
2. Green Bay Packers (8-3)

Wild-card round matchups (Jan. 3-4)
No. 6 Seattle Seahawks (7-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-3)
No. 5 Dallas Cowboys (8-3) at Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

Notes: The Lions went from first-round bye to outside the playoff picture. San Francisco (7-4) takes on Seattle on Thanksgiving night in a huge NFC West clash.

*The playoffs don’t start today.

Playoff scenarios via

Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images