With five weeks to go in the 2012 NFL season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. A handful of teams are still alive in the wild card races in both the NFC and AFC, which should make for an exciting finish to the NFL season.
If the season ended today, the current playoff seeding in the NFC would be the following:
1. Atlanta Falcons
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Chicago Bears
4. New York Giants
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Seattle Seahawks
The Falcons and 49ers would receive first round byes with the Bears facing the Seahawks and the Giants facing the Packers in round one. Both of those games would be rematches from the regular season as the Green Bay Packers just lost to the New York Giants on November 25th and the Bears will host the Seahawks on December 2nd.
Both Tampa Bay and Minnesota are 6-5 along with the Seahawks, but Seattle gets the last wild card spot because of a tie breaker based on best win percentage in conference games over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a head to head tie break over the Minnesota Vikings.
The Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints are all 5-6 and not out of the playoff picture just yet, but time is certainly not on their side as each of those teams needs to start winning games on a consistent basis.
The AFC playoff picture is a little clearer than the NFC at this point. The current division leaders and playoff seedings if the season ended today are the following:
1. Houston Texans
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. New England Patriots
4. Denver Broncos
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
The first round playoff matchups would see the Patriots play the Steelers and Peyton Manning would face his old team as the Broncos would play the Colts. Indianapolis has the inside track on one of the two wild card spots with their 7-4 record. The Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need Ben Roethlisberger to return to the lineup as they are just 6-5 and tied with the Cincinnati Bengals in the standings, but hold the tie break advantage over the Bengals based on head-to-head win percentage.
The Miami Dolphins are right behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals with a 5-6 record, and still in the hunt for the last wild card spot. The San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are not completely eliminated from the final wild card position at 4-7, but one of these teams would more than likely have to run the table to grab the sixth and final playoff spot.