So with one week left in the regular season, the playoff picture has pretty much taken shape with just a few slots left for grabs. Let’s take a look at where all 32 teams stand with one week to go in the regular season.
Eliminated From Contention
New York Giants
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers
New York Jets
Green Bay Packers
Teams that Clinched Playoff Berths
New England Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Chargers
Week 17 is going to be huge for the teams on this list. I’m going to break down each playoff contender’s situation
All the divisions have been clinched in the AFC, however both Wild Card spots are up for grabs. We also know who will have the first round byes, as the Patriots and Steelers have both clinched now that the Jaguars have lost to the 49ers and the Steelers have beaten the Texans.
New England Patriots (12-3)
Week 17: Home against the Jets
If the Patriots win, they clinch home field throughout the AFC playoffs. However, if the Jets do the unthinkable and win in Foxboro, the Patriots can still take home field if the Steelers lose to the Browns. They’ve already clinched a bye so no matter what the Wild Card Round will not feature Brady’s Bunch.
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
Week 17: Home against the Browns
The Steelers still have a chance to clinch home field despite the fact that the Patriots hold the tie breaker, but they’re going to need to become Jets fans. Despite not having Antonio Brown, the Steelers offense went to town on the Texans defense, so I’m sure they’ll be okay against the Browns. If they beat the Browns and the Patriots lose to the Jets, they’ll be the number 1 seed. However if the Patriots win, it won’t matter what the Steelers do against the Browns.
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5)
Week 17: On the road against the Titans
The Jaguars clinched the 3 seed after losing to the Jaguars coupled with the Steelers defeating the Texans. They hold the tie breaker over the Chiefs thanks to a superior conference record so even if they finish the season tied, which would require a Jags loss and a Chiefs win, Jacksonville would still be the 3.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)
Week 17: On the road against the Broncos
As mentioned above, the Jaguars hold the tie breaker over the Chiefs so Kansas City is locked into the 4 seed. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see Andy Reid rest his starters for this game as it’s very likely that the Chiefs’ opponent in the Wild Card round will be a physical team.
Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
Week 17: Home against the Bengals
The Ravens have not clinched a playoff spot yet, but they do control their own destiny. A win over the Bengals would clinch them the first Wild Card spot and a date with the Chiefs. However, if they lose and two of the following three teams win (Bills, Chargers, Titans), then the Ravens are out. But if they lose and only one of those teams wins, then the Ravens will be the 6 seed.
Tennessee Titans (8-7)
Week 17: Home against the Jaguars
The 6 seed is currently held by the Titans but it is sure to be the most interesting playoff position of them all, as a loss by the Titans practically ensures one of the other two teams competing get in. Add in the fact they’re playing the Jaguars, whom they actually blew out back in Week 2 and things get even more interesting. However since that game, both teams have gone in opposite directions, the Jaguars showing themselves to be top talents in the league while the Titans are barely scraping by. However if the Titans win, they’re in. If not, they’ll be done provided the Chargers and/or Bills win. And who knows? If the Titans and Ravens both win, then the Titans will end up playing the Jaguars in back-to-back weeks.
Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
Week 17: Home against the Raiders
The Chargers need to win this game if they’re going to have a chance and they’re going to need to get some help. If they win and the Titans lose, they’re in. I believe the same is true if the Ravens lose. They hold the tie breaker over the Bills, which they gained in their head-to-head victory (you may remember it as the game where Nathan Peterman threw 5 interceptions in the first half of his starting debut). But they’re out with a loss to the Raiders, so they can’t get caught scoreboard watching.
Buffalo Bills (8-7)
Week 17: On the road against the Dolphins
The Bills are basically in the exact same situation as the Chargers, except they need to win and two out of the three other teams in the Wild Card hunt need to lose, that being the Ravens, Titans, and Chargers. Also like the Chargers, if the Bills lose, they’re done. The Ravens and Titans control their destiny in these situations.
NFC Playoff Picture
There’s only one team left to clinch a spot and it’s either going to be the Falcons or Seahawks. However, seeding is confusing as shit. I’m not even 100% sure of how it all works at this stage. The easiest route of action would be for the Vikings to win their game or a Panthers loss, then there won’t be anything confusing. But we don’t always get what we want.
Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
Week 17: Home against the Cowboys
The Eagles clinched the 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so there is nothing left for them to gain. They can rest their starters against the Cowboys if they so choose.
Minnesota Vikings (12-3)
Week 17: Home against the Bears
The Vikings have tie breakers over the Rams and Saints, which is huge considering they are right on their tails. However, the Panthers hold the tie breaker over the Vikings due to Carolina’s head-to-head victory. But the Saints hold the tie breaker over the Panthers so if there’s a 3-way tie between the three teams, there will be a loop of tie breakers: Vikings over Saints, Saints over Panthers, Panthers over Vikings. In that scenario, should the Vikings lose and the Saints and Panthers win, then it would come down to what happens with the Rams. But if the Vikings, Saints, and Rams lose and the Panthers win, Carolina jumps from the 5 to the 2 seed, meaning they’d go from having to play on the road in the Wild Card round to having a bye and a home game in the Divisional round. Is your brain in a knot yet?
Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
Week 17: Home against the 49ers
The Vikings hold the tie breaker over the Rams so it’s guaranteed the Rams will be a 3 or 4 seed, since they won their division. If they lose to the 49ers, which used to be unthinkable but is now entirely possible thanks to the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo, then they will drop to the 4 seed with either a Saints or Panthers victory.
New Orleans Saints (11-4)
Week 17: On the road against the Buccaneers
A Saints win clinches them the division and a home game in the first round, since they hold the tie breaker over the Panthers. The Vikings hold the tie breaker over the Saints so I think they can’t get a bye no matter what happens with the Vikings. If they lose and the Panthers win, though, the Panthers will take the division and the Saints will be the 5 seed.
Carolina Panthers (11-4)
Week 17: On the road against the Falcons
A Panthers win would make things very confusing in the playoff picture due to the circular tie breakers, so I’m kind of praying the Falcons win just so I don’t have to think so hard. But it would certainly get interesting if the Panthers win because if the Vikings lose, then even though they wouldn’t win the division, they’d hold the tie breaker over the potential 2-seed. It’s all weird and I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around things. And don’t even get me started on conference records because the Vikings hold the advantage over the Panthers in that regard, but head-to-head comes first.
Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
Week 17: At home against Carolina Panthers
The Falcons control their destiny. If they win, they’re in. However they face a Panthers team that has a chance to win their division, so it won’t exactly be a cakewalk. No matter what, the Falcons would be the 6 seed if they got in. They could also get in with a loss, but the Seahawks would also have to lose, considering Atlanta holds the tie breaker.
Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
Week 17: At home against the Cardinals
If the Seahawks win and the Falcons lose, the Seahawks are the 6 seed. Atlanta holds the tie breaker based on their win in their head-to-head matchup in Week 11 in that Monday Night game where Blair Walsh’s potential game-tying kick was too short.
Games with no Playoff Implications:
Winning these games would essentially be as meaningful as winning a bowl game. You can probably skip these ones.
Giants vs Redskins
Packers vs Lions
Texans vs Colts
Eagles vs Cowboys
Chiefs vs Broncos
Those are the playoff scenarios, I explained it as well as I could, but that 2-5 situation in the NFC is kind of brutal. If you can clean that up for me, let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.