It's at that point in the season when the contenders hunker down and make things happen, while the pretenders start looking to next year. There are 32 teams in the NFL and about 19 of them have decent playoff hopes.
In the NFC, a lot of the action is pretty clear cut already. In the West, the Arizona Cardinals have a commanding four-game lead over the closest division opponent.
With just six games to play, it would take either a monumental collapse or unbelievable luck by the 3-7 San Francisco 49ers, the 2-8 Seattle Seahawks or the 2-8 St. Louis Rams. The best the Rams or Seahawks can hope for is an 8-8 record, and that's if they run the table. It's a long shot to win the division and 8-8 won't get them into the wildcard spot in the NFC this season.
In the South, the Carolina Panthers lead the division at 8-2, but the Tampa Bay Bucs are not far behind at 7-3, and the Falcons are still within reach of the division at 6-4. Right now, if the season ended today, the Bucs would be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, taking the top wildcard spot. The New Orleans Saints are bringing up the rear in that division at 5-5, which isn't a terrible record, but considering the number of teams with the same or better record, their chances of reaching the post season are slim at best.
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