Heading into Week 17, there are some tight playoff races. There are a number of matchups between teams on the fence to get into the playoffs. There are also some important games for playoff seeding as nobody has clinched the top seed in either conference yet.
A divisional matchup in the AFC to watch is the Dolphins at Patriots. Both teams will get into the playoffs if they win out, but New England must win this game if they want any chance at making it. The Dolphins still could lose this game and find a way in. Another AFC game to watch for this week is the Bills at Bengals. The Bills currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but the Bengals could catch them with a win and a Chiefs loss.
In the NFC, the Panthers at Buccaneers is a great matchup as both are trying to win the NFC South. The Bucs are in with a win, while the Panthers likely need to win out. Another important game today is the Vikings at Packers. While the Vikings are already in, they would love to have the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Packers still need some help to get in, but winning out is the most important. Watch out for the Jets at Seahawks game as well. Both of those teams need to win out and some other help to get in.
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Chaos has started to arrive in the final two weeks of the NFL regular season. In the NFC, the Commanders lost to the Browns, which opens the door for a host of teams. The Lions beat the Bears to improve to 8-8 and take over the final wild card berth for the time-being. Detroit faces Green Bay in Week 18 and that could decide the final playoff berth depending on the rest of Sunday.
The Giants clinched a playoff berth with an easy win over the Colts. Meanwhile, the NFC East remains up for grabs for Dallas as the Eagles lost to the Saints at home on Sunday. Philly controls their own destiny and has Jalen Hurts potentially returning to the starting lineup. The Bucs closed out the NFC South with a win over the Panthers and are locked into the No. 4 seed.
In the AFC, the Jaguars got a win that helps their wild card chances, but they know that Week 18 brings a game against the Titans with the AFC South on the line for both teams. The Chiefs beat the Broncos in a tougher than expected matchup, and they keep the heat on the Bills heading into Monday. The Patriots beat the Dolphins and that moved them into the final playoff berth. They’ll need to beat the Bills in Week 18, but they control their own fate coming out of Week 17.
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The Packers were the big winners in the late window. They crushed the Vikings and suddenly control their playoff destiny. If they beat the Lions in Week 18, they claim the final wild card berth. On the other hand, if the Lions win, Detroit does not control their own destiny. The Seahawks beat the Jets and have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions. So, if the Seahawks and Lions win, Seattle goes to the playoffs, and if the Lions win and Seahawks lose, Detroit goes to the playoffs.
The 49ers beat the Raiders in overtime. They are now tied with the Vikings and move ahead of Minnesota into the No. 2 seed thanks to having a better conference record.
Here’s a look at what the playoff picture looks like on Sunday. We’ll update through each window as the league works its way through Week 17.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens to stay in the playoff hunt. The Ravens loss doesn’t hurt them too badly, but they do drop to the 6th overall seed and the Chargers move up to the 5th. The Ravens will hope for a Bills win over the Bengals on MNF, which would give them a chance to win the division when they face the Bengals in Week 18.
AFC playoff picture
8. Miami Dolphins, 8-8
9. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-8
10. New York Jets, 7-9
11. Tennessee Titans, 7-9
12. Cleveland Browns, 7-9 — eliminated
13. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-10 — eliminated
14. Indianapolis Colts, 4-11-1 — eliminated
15. Denver Broncos, 4-12 — eliminated
16. Houston Texans, 2-13-1 — eliminated
NFC playoff picture
8. Washington Commanders, 7-8-1
9. Green Bay Packers, 8-8
10. Seattle Seahawks, 8-8
11. New Orleans Saints, 7-9
12. Carolina Panthers, 6-10 — eliminated
13. Atlanta Falcons 6-10 — eliminated
14. Los Angeles Rams, 5-11 — eliminated
15. Arizona Cardinals, 4-12 — eliminated
16. Chicago Bears, 3-13 — eliminated