Playoff puzzle nearly complete with one week to go

Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:12pm EST
 

(Reuters) - With one week remaining in the regular season, the National Football League's playoff picture has come into sharper focus with only a few more pieces of the post-season puzzle to be put into place.

Much of the remaining drama is focused on the NFC East, where the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will stage a battle royale for the division crown with a ticket to the post-season going to the survivor.

The Redskins (9-6), riding a six-game winning streak and with rookie sensation quarterback Robert Griffin III healthy and calling plays, host the Cowboys (8-7) in the Sunday evening prime time finale to the NFL regular season that will see the winner claim the division.

While the Cowboys' (8-7) only path to the post-season requires a victory, the Redskins could still scrape into the playoffs with a loss if the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings also lose their finales.

The situation is much more dire for the slumping Giants (8-7), who will need plenty of help to advance.

The defending Super Bowl champions have lost five of their last seven and must defeat the Philadelphia Eagles at home on Sunday and hope Dallas, Chicago and Minnesota all lose.

TRIP TO MOTOR CITY

The Seattle Seahawks (10-5) and San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1) enter the final weekend having clinched playoff berths but with the NFC West title still up for grabs along with a possible first round bye.

San Francisco can take top spot in the West with a win at home over the Arizona Cardinals (5-10) while the surging Seahawks, who have outscored opponents 150-30 in their last three contests, must close out the regular season with a fifth straight victory when they visit the St. Louis Rams (7-7-1) and have the 49ers lose.   Continued...

 
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris (R) makes a touchdown catch in front of New Orleans Saints corner back Johnny Patrick in the second half of their NFL football game in Arlington, Texas December 23, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Stone