Ten teams have locked up their NFL playoff spots and just two slots remain, but there still are plenty of postseason question marks heading into the final week of the season.
In the AFC, five teams are in — division winners Baltimore, New England, Kansas City and Houston, along with wild-card Buffalo. Three teams have a shot at the remaining wild-card spot: Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Oakland.
The Tennessee Titans (8-7), who were 2-4 before the switch from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, have the easiest path to the playoffs. Win, and they’re in.
The Titans also advance under these scenarios:
–A tie and a Steelers loss or tie
–A Steelers loss and an Indianapolis Colts loss or tie
The Steelers (8-7) lost their grip on the No. 6 seed with their Week 16 loss to the New York Jets. Pittsburgh qualifies for the playoffs with:
–A win and a Titans loss or tie
–A tie and a Titans loss
–A Titans loss, plus a Colts win and a Raiders loss or tie
–A Titans loss, plus a Colts win and Raiders win and Steelers beat Raiders in the strength-of-victory tiebreaker
The scenario is even more complicated for the Oakland Raiders (7-8). To qualify, the Raiders must have all of the following occur:
–Raiders win, plus a Steelers loss, Titans loss, Colts win and the Raiders winning the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Steelers. (Oakland wins that tiebreaker if one of these teams wins or ties: the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers or New England Patriots.)
Also still to be decided in the AFC is which team will earn the No. 2 seed. The Ravens (13-2) have locked up home-field advantage.
The Chiefs (11-4) will clinch the No. 2 seed and the first-round bye that comes with it if they win and New England (12-3) loses to the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots will grab the spot with a win or a tie — or a Chiefs loss or tie.
In the NFC, the winner of the East division is undecided. The Dallas Cowboys (7-8) must defeat the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) must lose to the New York Giants for the Cowboys to win the division. The Eagles are in with a win or tie, or a Dallas loss or tie.
The NFC East winner will be the No. 4 seed and host a wild-card game. The other seeds are still up for grabs, as is the winner of the NFC West.
The latter will be either the San Francisco 49ers (12-3) or the Seattle Seahawks (11-4). The two meet on Sunday night, the final game of the regular season, in a winner-take-all match in Seattle. The losing team will be the conference’s No. 5 seed. The winner could finish with the No. 1 seed.
San Francisco also will win the division with a tie.
The other divisions have been decided, with the Green Bay Packers having clinched the NFC North and New Orleans Saints locked up the NFC South.
So how will everyone be seeded? Here are the possibilities.
The Packers (12-3) meet the Detroit Lions and will clinch a first-round bye with:
–A Saints loss
–A tie and a 49ers loss
–A tie and a Saints tie
The Packers will earn the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with:
–A win plus a 49ers loss or tie
–A tie, combined with a 49ers loss and Saints loss or tie
The Saints (12-3) play at the Carolina Panthers. They’ll secure a first-round bye with:
–A win and a Packers loss or tie
–A win and a 49ers loss or tie
–A tie and Packers loss
–A tie and 49ers loss
–A 49ers loss and Green Bay win or tie
The Saints earn home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs with:
–A win, plus a Packers loss or tie and a 49ers loss or tie
–A tie, plus a Packers loss and a 49ers loss
The 49ers win the NFC West with a win or tie against the Seahawks. If San Francisco wins, it will also clinch a first-round bye. The 49ers could also earn the bye with:
–A tie and a Packers loss or tie
–A tie and a Saints loss or tie
And the 49ers could clinch home-field advantage for the playoffs with:
–A tie and a Packers loss or tie and a Saints loss or tie
For the Seahawks, they’ll earn a first-round bye with a win and a Packers loss. They’ll get home-field advantage with a win, combined with losses by the Packers and Saints.
–Field Level Media
Categories: National Football League