The race to the NFL playoffs always goes down to the wire each year, and this season is no different.
The postseason picture is starting to take shape, and some teams have practically saved their spot.
However, there are still teams trying to make it in, hoping that their rivals will bow down from the competition.
The difference between those classifications is evident in the NFC.
The teams that lead the four divisions have comfortable cushions against their bitter foes.
In contrast, the battle for the last playoff spot remains intense and will stay that way until Week 18 of the regular season.
Here’s how the quest for the seventh and final postseason ticket is unfolding in the NFC.
Washington Can’t Be Complacent
The Washington Football Team took possession of the number seven seed by defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12.
However, they are by no means safe in that spot.
They will be in a better situation if they can continue to win games.
Otherwise, a string of losses might push them out of the playoff picture.
— NFL (@NFL) November 30, 2021
As it stands, six teams are still in the running for a postseason spot.
The two remaining NFC East squads, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, are still within reach of Washington.
The Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and the Carolina Panthers are all one game out of seventh place despite their struggles.
The Chicago Bears still have life, but their fate might depend on the other teams.
The NFC playoff picture through Week 12:
1. Cardinals [West] (9-2)
2. Packers [North] (9-3)
3. Bucs [South] (8-3)
4. Cowboys [East] (7-4)
5. Rams (7-4)
6. 49ers (6-5)
7. WFT (5-6)
8. Vikings (5-6)
9. Falcons (5-6)
10. Saints (5-6)
Quite the logjam there on the bubble.
— Amie Just (@Amie_Just) November 30, 2021
Regardless of which team makes it through, the battle for the seventh spot is like a tournament in itself.
Washington has four NFC East games left while the Vikings have the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams left on their schedule.
The Falcons will face the Panthers in Week 14 and the Saints in Week 18.
Meanwhile, New Orleans will have Carolina in Week 17, and the Eagles still have games versus the Dallas Cowboys and the Giants.
Which Team Will Get The Seventh Spot?
It’s hard to see the Panthers making the playoffs now that Christian McCaffrey suffered a season-ending injury.
While Cam Newton leads the team under center, McCaffrey is the core of their offense, and they’ve struggled without him.
The same grim scenario might happen to the Saints if Alvin Kamara continues to miss more games.
He was their best hope when Jameis Winston incurred an injury, and they will have a hard time generating points without their star running back.
The Saints epitomize this crazy 2021 season so far…
Beat the Packers (9-3), Bucs (8-3) and Patriots (8-4).
Lose to the Giants (4-7), Panthers (5-7), Eagles (5-7) & Falcons (5-6).
And yet, somehow, they're still in the NFC playoff race.
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) November 29, 2021
The Falcons might miss the postseason because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, and the San Francisco 49ers are still on their schedule.
Meanwhile, the Vikings have winnable games left against the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Bears twice.
On the other hand, the Eagles squandered a great opportunity against the Giants but will face them again in Week 16.
They also have remaining games the Cowboys, the New York Jets, and Washington twice.
Updated NFC Playoff Picture 👀 pic.twitter.com/Hy0jFr8lyB
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) November 30, 2021
Washington will still play two games versus Dallas and one against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Given the strength of their remaining schedule, Minnesota, Washington, and Philadelphia have the best chance of getting the seventh NFC postseason spot.