TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 9: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints takes a knee while teammate Michael Ola #65 is injured on the field during the fourth quarter of the New Orleans Saints during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. The Saints defeated the Buccaneers 28 to 14 to win the NFC South conference title. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

With only a few weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture has started to take shape. Some teams such as the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints have already clinched their divisions. Others such as the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks are fighting for a wild card berth. This is the most exciting time of the season, as every game matters even more from now on. Only five teams have been eliminated from playoff contention so far, so anyone can make a push for the postseason. Here are my predictions for the standings and playoffs beginning with the NFC.

NFL Playoff Predictions, Part 1 (NFC)

NFC North

  1. Chicago Bears (11-5)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (9-6-1)
  3. Green Bay Packers (7-7-1)
  4. Detroit Lions (6-10)

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
  2. Carolina Panthers (8-8)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (6-10)

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
  3. New York Giants (7-9)
  4. Washington Redskins (7-9)

NFC West

  1. Los Angeles Rams (14-2)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
  3. Arizona Cardinals (4-12)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (3-13)

NFC Playoffs

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. Seattle Seahawks
  6. Minnesota Vikings

Wildcard

Chicago vs. Minnesota

Winner: Chicago

Why: Khalil Mack could potentially be the next legendary linebacker coming out of Chicago. The Vikings are currently 30th in rushing offense while the Bears are the 2nd ranked rush defense. When the gap is this significant, the Vikings will have a hard time running against the new Monsters of the Midway. If Mitchell Trubisky can control the clock and not commit any turnovers the Bears should get a relatively easy win at home to advance.

Dallas vs. Seattle

Winner: Seattle

Why: The NFC East is weak this year, arguably the worst conference in the NFL. The Cowboys are not nearly as dominant as in 2016, and the Seahawks are possibly the hottest team in football. Russell Wilson has continued to put the team on his back and has the talent and weapons to beat Dallas. The Cowboys flaws will be exposed as Seattle advances to the divisional round.

Divisional Round

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle

Winner: Los Angeles Rams

Why: The Seahawks might be on a roll, but even in the Legion of Boom era the Rams were one of a few teams who played them close. These teams played each other twice this year, and the Rams won both games by a combined seven points. This will be a close and exciting game, however, home field advantage and a game-changing running bakc in Todd Gurley makes the difference.

New Orleans vs. Chicago

Winner: New Orleans

Why: The Saints offense will score points, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas will succeed even against the tough Bears defense. The Saints have the top rushing defense against the 18th rushing attack in Chicago. The Bears and Saints are within one ranking in the passing game, with the Bears at 10 and the Saints at 11. However, homefield advantage and a veteran quarterback in Drew Brees prove to be the difference as the Saints head to Los Angeles for a shot at Super Bowl 53.

NFC Championship

Los Angeles vs. New Orleans

Winner: New Orleans

Why: This will be a great game, both offenses will put up points. Suh and Donald against Kamara and Ingram will be a great matchup to watch, however, the experience of Sean Payton and Drew Brees prove to be the difference. With the offensive struggles the Rams had against Chicago, this offense is now vulnerable and the Saints can take advantage.  The experience of the Saints will use this to their benefit on their way to Super Bowl 53.

Stay Tuned for my AFC Predictions, and Super Bowl 53 Prediction.

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