NFL Playoff Picture Before Week 17
The NFL Playoff picture became much cleared after the holiday slate of games. All playoff spots in the AFC are accounted for, while the NFC’s final wildcard is down to a three team race.
The New England Patriots (13-2) can clinch homefield throughout the playoffs with a win Sunday at Miami. The Dolphins (10-5) clinched a wild card spot with the Broncos loss to Kansas City,and seem locked in as the 6 seed. If the playoffs started today, Miami would open up on the road at Pittsburgh.
The Oakland Raiders (12-3) played their hated rivals, the Denver Broncos, on Sunday with a lot on the line. A Raiders loss to Denver could not only cost them homefield throughout the AFC playoffs, but should the Chiefs win in San Diego, Kansas City would get the division title and number 2 seed. Oakland would slip all the way down to the 5 seed, and face Houston on the road in the wildcard round. Oakland is going the rest of the way without MVP candidate Derek Carr, who suffered a horrific season-ending leg injury against the Colts this past weekend.
The Houston Texans (9-6) are the AFC South champions again, and Tom Savage has the team and fanbase believing Houston can make some noise in January. Houston goes on the road in Week 17 against the Titans, who will be without Marcus Mariotta, who suffered a season ending injury last weekend vs. Jacksonville. Houston will host a wildcard game against the AFC West second place team, either Kansas City or Oakland.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) may be the most dangerous team in the AFC, as they will wrap up against the 1-14 Browns, and appear to be clicking on all cylinders heading into the postseason. Pittsburgh is poised at the 3 seed to make a run to the AFC Championship game, as they will host the Dolphins in the wildcard round, and with a win would travel to either Oakland or Kansas City, where they would be road favorites.
The Dallas Cowboys (13-2) have secured homefield throughout the NFC playoffs, and wrap up the regular season on the road against Philadelphia. Dallas will likely not rest their starters, but you should not expect Dak Prescott and company to play the entire game.
The Atlanta Falcons (10-5) have won the NFC South, and can lock up the number 2 seed overall with a win against the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta would prefer to have a potential divisional game against Seattle to go down on their turf.
Seattle suffered a surprising defeat at home against Arizona Sunday, and now at 9-5-1 need to win at San Francisco to secure the 3 seed.
The team posing the greatest threat to Dallas could be the Green Bay Packers. At 9-6, the Packers are the hottest team in the conference, and can wrap up the NFC North title with a win against Detroit Sunday.
The Lions (9-6) loss at Dallas Monday night put their playoff hopes hinging solely on the outcome of Sunday’s game vs. Green Bay. A win and they are in as NFC North champions and the 4 seed. A loss and they will be out, if the Redskins beat the Giants.
Speaking of the Giants (10-5), a win against the Redskins will not only knock out their NFC East foes, but keep New York in the 5 seed position. A loss would still keep New York in the 5 seed, and facing Green Bay in the wildcard round.