We are at week 11 of the season and with that the playoff picture has started to sort itself out in the NFC.  While there are only six playoff spots up for grabs, I will rank the top eight teams in the conference and examine their strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: After their bye week, the Eagles sit at 8-1 and have the best record in the NFL. They play the Dallas Cowboys this weekend who must be treating this game as a must win.  This game will tell you a lot about the NFC Playoff picture going forward.
  2. Los Angeles Rams: The Rams remain in the second spot after a big win against the Houston Texans 33-7.  The Rams were not clicking on offense in the first half, but the defense stood up to the test. The second half of the game the Rams offense picked up their end of the bill.
  3. New Orleans Saints- The Saints are clicking on all cylinders right now and make a two-spot jump in the rankings.  The one-two combination of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have finally given Drew Brees the running game he has lacked in years past. The defense has also been playing at a high level and the Saints have now won seven games in a row.  Their matchup with the Rams in two weeks should be a great test to see where both teams sit.
  4. Minnesota Vikings-The Vikings are 7-2 and sitting atop the NFC North.  After a convincing win against the Washington Redskins the Vikings are hosting the Rams in a potential playoff match up. A year ago this week Jared Goff replaced Case Keenum as starting quarterback for the Rams. This week Keenum and Goff will be competing against each other once again, this time for opposite teams.
  5. Carolina Panthers- The Panthers are really starting to play like a playoff contender.  Cam Newton is starting to play like he did in his MVP season and the Panther defense can stop anyone on any given night.  Look out for the Panthers, they are starting to get hot.
  6. Seattle Seahawks- The Seahawks continue to find ways to win.  They don’t always look pretty on the field, but they sure know how to win games.  The win against Arizona wasn’t pretty in any way, shape or form, but the Seahawks are 6-3 and right on the Rams heels for the lead in the NFC West.
  7. Dallas Cowboys- Currently sitting at 5-4 the Cowboys are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.  Minus Ezekiel Elliot the Cowboys came back down to earth losing to the Atlanta Falcons 24-7.  They have a huge test this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles that will sort out the contenders from pretenders.  This is about as close to a must win as you can find on the schedule this week.
  8. Detroit Lions- The Lions didn’t play their best game Sunday against Cleveland, starting the game with a deficit of 10-0, but they found a way to get a win.  Matt Stafford is having a great year, and Golden Tate and Marvin Jones give him two great targets.  The Lions are 5-4 and currently out of the playoffs, but I wouldn’t count this team out just yet.

Brian Joanou is a staff writer for cover32.com/Rams and covers the Los Angeles Rams. Like and follow on

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