Most of the NFC playoff field has already taken shape

It’s still early, but not really that early, in the 2021 season. It’s definitely not too early to realize that the NFC has six teams that have emerged from the pack.

Those teams are the 7-1 Packers, the 7-1 Rams, the 7-1 Cardinals, the 6-1 Cowboys, the 6-2 Buccaneers, and the 5-2 Saints. No other NFC team has fewer than four losses through eight weeks.

The good news for the NFL is that the playoffs expanded in 2020 to include a seventh team per conference. Otherwise, the only drama in the NFC would relate to the seeding of those six teams.

Plenty of teams are alive for the seventh seed. Basically, everyone except the 0-8 Lions could get hot and steal the seventh spot. While that team will then become the sacrificial lamb for the second seed during Super Duper Wild Card Three-Day Weekend, making the playoffs vs. not making the playoffs can often be the difference between getting fired or getting another year. (Fans of some teams may be rooting for the “no playoff” option at this point.)

So as six teams jockey for the No. 1 seed, nine will jostle to be the last team in. While things can (and often do) change, it seems pretty clear at this point that the NFC has separated into the six haves, the nine have-lesses, and the have-nothing Lions.