The NFL is going into the final month of the regular season in a precarious position, with the Carolina Panthers leading the NFC South and the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings battling for the NFC West title.
But the real concern comes from a race that began two weeks ago.
Here are some of the other storylines: The Rams are winning on the road and now have a bye.
Carolina has won six of its last eight games at home, including a 23-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Rams, who beat the Seahawks in Week 9, have the best record in the NFC at 10-4, while the Vikings have the worst at 4-8.
The Seahawks and Panthers are tied for first in the AFC West at 8-5, but the Rams are leading by two games over Seattle, who has won seven of its past eight games.
That puts the Rams ahead of the Vikings by one game.
That gives the Rams a better chance to win the NFC wild-card game.
The Panthers are playing better defense, which is a good sign for the Rams, but they’re still in a tough spot with a division title and a bye coming up.
But they are not done.
The Vikings, meanwhile, have a good chance at clinching home field advantage and would be in a better position to beat Seattle in the Superbowl.
Minnesota’s defense is playing better than the Rams defense and would give them a better shot at winning the NFC title.
That is not good enough for the Vikings to keep their playoff hopes alive, but it could be enough to keep them alive.