There has not been a season in the NFL quite like this one. Heading into the final weekend of the season we have five teams in the NFC and another five teams in the AFC all battling it out for the four remaining spots in the post-season playoffs. It is a hugely competitive and unusual situation to have so many teams involved, and it makes the permutations as to who could go through and who could miss out, all the more confusing.

So, in this article, we are going to identify the teams in both conferences that have it all to play for on the final weekend of the season. We will try to explain what each team needs to do to ensure they progress (or at least give themselves the best chance of doing so) and we will also explain how tiebreakers will be used to determine the seed positions and whether teams qualify for the playoffs or not.

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Let’s now take a look at the key games in both the AFC and the NFC that will influence the playoff picture this coming weekend.

Week 17 – Key Games in the AFC/NFC Playoff Picture

AFC

  • Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (18.00 Sunday)
  • Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (18.00 Sunday)
  • Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (18.00 Sunday)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (21.25 Sunday)
  • Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans (21.25 Sunday)

NFC

  • Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants (18.00 Sunday)
  • Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams (21.25 Sunday)
  • Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (21.25 Sunday)
  • Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers (21.25 Sunday)
  • Washington Football Team @ Philadelphia Eagles (1.20 Monday)

The Current Playoff Picture

Teams shown in italics have already confirmed their place in the playoffs.

AFC

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – 14-1 (Confirmed #1 seed – Week One Bye)
  2. Buffalo Bills – 11-3 (to play New England Patriots tonight- Confirmed in Playoffs)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – 11-4 (AFC North Winners – Confirmed in Playoffs)
  4. Tennessee Titans – 10-5 (AFC South Leaders)
  5. Miami Dolphins – 10-5 (AFC East 2nd Place)
  6. Baltimore Ravens – 10-5 (AFC North – 2nd Place)
  7. Cleveland Browns – 10-5 (AFC North – 3rd Place)
  8. Indianapolis Colts – 10-5 (AFC South – 2nd Place)

The Chiefs have already locked down the number 1 seed in the AFC and will have home advantage throughout the playoffs as top seed. The Bills and Steelers have clinched their division and who will be 2nd/3rd seed between those two teams will be decided in the final week.

The Titans and Colts will battle it out to win the AFC South to clinch the #4 seed spot and a home tie in the first round of the playoffs. The Colts have the easiest game at home to the worst team in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Titans have a tough trip to Texas to take on the Houston Texans.

  • 10-5 Team Chances

If only one of the 10-5 team loses their final game of the season, they will be eliminated, if all of them win, then the Colts will be the unlucky team to miss out with an 11-5 record. However, if two or more teams lose their games this weekend, then different tiebreakers will be used to decide the teams that progress and who misses out. In short, if any of the current top 7 seeds win, they are in. The Colts need to win and one or more of the other teams to lose, in order to squeak into the playoffs.

Predictions: I see the Ravens and Colts landing easy wins in their games and I think the Titans will just about edge a win in Houston too. I can see the Dolphins and Browns struggling to win their games and if it comes down to a tiebreaker between the two it would be the Dolphins that progress.

My AFC Playoff Seed & Record Prediction after Week 17

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – 15-1
  2. Buffalo Bills – 13-3
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – 12-4
  4. Tennessee Titans – 11-5
  5. Baltimore Ravens – 11-5
  6. Indianapolis Colts – 11-6
  7. Miami Dolphins – 10-6

Missing Out – Cleveland Browns – 10-6.

NFC

  1. Green Bay Packers – 12-3 (NFC North Winners)
  2. New Orleans Saints – 11-4 (NFC South Winners)
  3. Seattle Seahawks – 11-4 (NFC West Winners)
  4. Washington Football Team – 6-9 (NFC East Leaders)
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 10-5 (NFC South 2nd Place)
  6. Los Angeles Rams – 9-6 (NFC West 2nd Place)
  7. Chicago Bears – 8-7 (NFC North 2nd Place)
  8. Arizona Cardinals – 7-8 (NFC West 3rd Place)

Also in contention – Dallas Cowboys – 6-9 (NFC East 2nd Place)

There is a lot to sort out in the final week of NFC games with the first choice being whether the Washington Football Team or Dallas Cowboys earn the top spot in the NFC East. It’s strange to see two teams who have won just six games this season in with a chance of being fourth seed in the playoffs but that is how it has worked out. I can see both losing their last games of the season too, which would mean Washington would be the team to qualify as the NFC East Champions.

  • Packers to hold on to top seed?

I expect the Packers to claim the top seed spot in the NFC by beating the Bears in their final game of the season. The Saints can’t overtake the Packers as the Packers lead the tiebreaker between the two, but the Seahawks could if they win and the Packers lose. However I expect Seattle and New Orleans to maintain their seed positions with wins in the final week too.

After that it is down to the final two playoff spots and I expect the L.A Rams to beat the Cardinals in the crucial NFC West clash between the two. A win for the Rams here would not just confirm them in the playoffs but also the Chicago Bears, with the Cardinals being eliminated.

My NFC Playoff Seed & Record Prediction after Week 17

  1. Green Bay Packers – 13-3
  2. New Orleans Saints – 12-4
  3. Seattle Seahawks – 12-4
  4. Washington Football Team – 6-10
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 11-5
  6. Los Angeles Rams – 10-6
  7. Chicago Bears – 8-8

Missing Out – Arizona Cardinals – 7-9, Dallas Cowboys 6-10

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