by Chris Burke
Earlier in the season, it appeared that the NFC East had a legitimate shot at claiming three of the conference's six playoff spot. Then, Tony Romo got hurt, Philadelphia slumped, Washington did what Washington does and that fell apart.
Now, heading into Week 13, the NFC South is in position for three playoff spots - heading into the weekend, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Atlanta would all be postseason-bound. And unlike the East's situation earlier, the South might be able to pull it off.
The division's playoff hopes skyrocket if Carolina beats Tampa Bay on Monday night - that would put Carolina at 10 wins, hosting Denver in Week 15. Meanwhile, the Bucs would still be at nine wins and looking forward to closing the season with San Diego and Oakland visiting the Bay.
Atlanta's the real toss-up team here. The Falcons final four games: at New Orleans, Tampa, at Minnesota, St. Louis. To get to the 11-win mark., Atlanta needs three victories. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Far from it. Even if the Falcons only get to 10 wins, Dallas would have to find two more wins against a very, very tough schedule, or the average-looking Redskins would need a 3-1 close simply to tie Atlanta.