2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 13
Life on the playoff bubble is tough, especially in the NFC.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys all lost in Week 12, further clouding the conference's playoff picture (at least as far as the final wild card is concerned) and raising questions about each team's long-term viability.
Who among this group has the best chance to pull though? Our voters (ESPN.com's John Clayton, ESPN.com's Ashley Fox, NFC East blogger Dan Graziano, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and NFC West blogger Mike Sando) have the most faith in Tampa Bay (No. 12), but a lot can happen between now and Week 17.
Just consider some of the factors: The Buccaneers and Saints face brutal schedules, the Cowboys have ongoing O-line issues, the Vikings lack consistency on offense and the Seahawks may lose starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner to four-game suspensions.
In other words, all five have reason(s) to be concerned. And because there's little margin for error, playoff bubbles will soon begin to burst -- perhaps as early as this week.