The New York Giants fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-14,at Heinz Field Sunday, snapping their six-game winning streak. Week 13 losses by the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings have allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to emerge. They’ve won four straight to surge past the Redskins into the second NFC wild-card spot, just one game behind New York at 7-5.
The Giants are still in decent position (numberFire gives them an 80.1 percent playoff-probability) but they can just as easily play their way out of the race if they aren’t better going forward than they were Sunday. Next week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys is another gut-check for Big Blue.
1. Dallas Cowboys (11-1)
Another week, another victory for the Cowboys. Dallas has won 11 in a row after dropping their season-opener to the Giants. They’ve officially clinched a playoff-berth and can lock up the NFC East next week by beating the Giants.
2. Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)
If the Seahawks lose to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football tonight, they’re the third-seed. Win and they’ll keep home-field advantage at two.
3. Detroit Lions (8-4)
The Lions are winners of four-straight and heating up as the playoffs approach. They rolled over the Saints on Sunday, winning a game without trailing in the fourth-quarter for the first time all season. If Seattle loses tonight, Detroit is the second seed in the NFC.
4. Atlanta Falcons (7-5)
Going for two cost Atlanta the game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. Eric Berry intercepted a Matt Ryan pass and took it all the way back for KC’s only two points of the fourth-quarter. It was enough to edge the Falcons 29-28. They’re now tied with the Bucs for the NFC South lead but own the tiebreaker. Both teams are in play for the division or a wild card.
5. New York Giants (8-4)
The Giants need to win at least two games over the final few weeks of the season to get themselves in the playoffs but got off to a bad start Sunday. Not just because they lost, but how bad their offense looked in doing so. Defense will lead the way down the stretch but Jason Pierre-Paul is banged up. He’ll have an MRI Monday on the injured groin which forced him from the Steelers game.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
Don’t look now but Jameis WInston and the Bucs have arrived. They beat the Chiefs in Kansas City, always a tough task, then followed that up by beating the Seahawks at home and Chargers in San Diego. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the season too. They’ll get the Dallas Cowboys, then more winnable games against the New Orleans Saints twice and Carolina Panthers.
Outside Looking In
The Redskins (6-5-1), Vikings (6-6) and Green Bay Packers (6-6) are still alive for either of the two wild-card spots. Minnesota or Green Bay can even win their division if the Lions collapse. They’ll meet again on Christmas Eve in a game with huge playoff implications for both. Washington will need to beat the Philadelphia Eagles next week and their season may come down to their Week 17 matchup with the Giants.