NFL Week 17 Playoff Picture: AFC #1 Seed Still Up For Grabs

John Morgan
December 29, 2016 at 7:00 am ET

Week 16 took much of the drama out of the final Sunday of the 2016 NFL regular season. Ten of the twelve post-season entries have been determined, but there is still plenty of drama available to make week 17 intriguing.

After having to travel to Denver last year Patriot fans are well aware of the importance of home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Bill Belichick will surely remind the team of last year’s 20-10 week 17 loss at Miami, complete with embarrassing film clips in team meetings. Add in the benching of a starter and it is doubtful there will be any lack of intensity in Miami Gardens.

In terms of other games, the one with the most impact is Green Bay at Detroit. Barring a tie the winner moves on as NFC North champion while the season ends for the loser. New England fans seeking an easier road to the playoffs will root for an Oakland loss at Denver and a victory by the Chiefs at San Diego. That would mean the Patriots cannot play both KC and Pittsburgh – the only two AFC teams with quarterbacks who were starters at the beginning of this month.

Note: for the sake of both clarity and sanity, outcomes dependent on ties have for the most part not been included.

 

AFC Playoff Picture

The AFC field was finalized last week, thanks in large part to Baltimore’s loss to Pittsburgh and Denver’s loss at Kansas City. On top of that two teams – Pittsburgh at #3 and Houston at #4 – cannot move up or down regardless of this week’s outcomes.

13-2 New England Patriots
At Miami, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; favored by 9½.
Can finish as #1 or #2 seed.
– Clinch #1 seed with win at Miami.
– Clinch #1 seed with Oakland loss.
– Drop to #2 seed with both loss to Dolphins, plus Raiders win.

12-3 Oakland Raiders
At Denver, 4:25 pm ET on CBS; 1-point underdog.
Can Finish as #1, #2 or #5 seed.
– Clinch #1 seed with both a win at Denver, plus a New England loss.
– Clinch at least the #2 seed with either one of the above.
– Drop to #5 seed with both a loss to Broncos, plus Chiefs win.

10-5 Pittsburgh Steelers
Home vs Cleveland, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; favored by 6.
Locked in as #3 seed.
Note: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are all not expected to play.

9-6 Houston Texans
At Tennessee, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; 3-point underdog.
Locked in as #4 seed.
Note: quarterbacks will be Tom Savage vs Matt Cassel.

11-4 Kansas City Chiefs
At San Diego, 4:25 pm ET on CBS; favored by 6.
Can finish as #2, #5 or #6 seed.
– Clinch #2 seed with both a win and a Raider loss.
– Clinch at least #5 seed with a win.
– Also clinch at least #5 seed with a Dolphins loss.
– Drop to #6 seed with both a loss, plus a Dolphins win.

10-5 Miami Dolphins
Home vs New England, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; 9½ point underdog.
Can finish as #5 or #6 seed.
– Clinch # 5 seed with both a win, plus a Chiefs loss.
– Remain a #6 seed under all other scenarios.

 

NFC Playoff Picture

Green Bay, Detroit, Washington and Tampa Bay are vying for two playoff slots. Even though the Redskins are currently on the outside looking in, their playoff chances are very good. With the Packers and Lions playing each other Sunday night the loser of that game could be done. Washington controls its own destiny, gaining a playoff berth with a win as long as the Packers and Lions don’t tie. Tampa Bay on the other hand needs seven games to go their way to extend their season, including a Giants-Skins tie.

13-2 Dallas Cowboys
At Philadelphia, 1:00 pm ET on FOX; 3-point underdog.
Locked in as number one seed.
Biggest news in Dallas is how a Cowboy fan got revenge on the fiancee who dumped her.

10-5 Atlanta Falcons
Home vs New Orleans, 4:25 pm ET on FOX; favored by 6½.
Can finish as #2, #3 or #4 seed.
– Clinch #2 seed with a win at New Orleans.
– Also clinch #2 seed with losses by both Seattle and Detroit.
– Clinch at least #3 seed with loss by either Seahawks or Lions.
– Drop to #4 seed with (a) loss to Saints, plus (b) Seahawks win, plus (c) Lions win.

9-5-1 Seattle Seahawks
At San Francisco, 4:25 pm ET on FOX; favored by 9½.
Can finish as #2, #3 or #4 seed.
– Clinch #2 seed with both a win, plus a Falcons loss.
– Clinch at least #3 seed with a win.
– Drop to #4 seed with loss to 49ers.
Think Seattle regrets that early season loss to the Rams now?

9-6 Green Bay Packers
At Detroit, 8:30 pm ET on NBC; favored by 3½.
Can finish as #3, #4 or #6 seed – or can miss playoffs.
– Clinch #3 seed with a win, plus Seattle loss.
– Clinch at least #4 seed with a win.
– Still clinch a playoff spot as #6 seed with loss Washington loss.
– Eliminated from #3 seed if Seattle wins.
– Eliminated from #4 seed with loss to Lions.
– Completely miss playoffs with both a loss, plus Washington wins.

10-5 New York Giants
At Washington, 4:25 pm ET on FOX; 7-point underdogs.
Locked in as #5 seed.

9-6 Detroit Lions
Home vs Green Bay, 8:30 pm ET on NBC; 3½ point underdogs.
Can finish as #2, #3, #4 or #6 seed – or miss playoffs entirely.
– Clinch #2 seed with a win, plus losses by both Atlanta and Seattle.
– Can clinch at least #3 with a win, plus loss by either Atlanta or Seattle.
– Clinch at least #4 seed with a win.
– Clinch a playoff spot and at least #6 seed with a Washington loss.
– Eliminated from first round bye with win by either Falcons or Seahawks.
– Eliminated from #3 seed with wins by both Falcons and Seahawks.
– Loss to Packers eliminates Detroit from #4 seed or better.
– Eliminated from playoffs with both a loss, plus a Washington win.

8-6-1 Washington Redskins
Home vs New York Giants, 4:25 pm ET on FOX; favored by 7.
Can only be either #6 seed or miss playoffs.
– Clinch #6 seed with a win, as long as Detroit-Green Bay does not end in a tie.
– Eliminated from playoffs with a loss.
– Eliminated from playoffs with a Lions-Packers tie.

 

Tampa Bay Bucs Playoff Picture

The Buccaneers deserve their own category simply because their playoff scenario is stranger than Rex Ryan’s proclivity for hidden cameras in an orthopedic surgeon’s office. Not only do the Bucs need a game to end in a tie, they also need two meaningless non-conference games to end in their favor. Oh, and for the Niners to beat Seattle too.

8-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Home vs Carolina, 1:00 pm ET on FOX; favored by 5½.
Can finish as #6 seed or miss playoffs.
Clinch playoff spot with every one of the following:
– A win vs Carolina, plus
– Washington ties Giants, plus
– Packers lose to Lions; plus
That would mean Tampa can top Green Bay based on Strength of Schedule if:
– Dallas beats Philadelphia, plus
– San Francisco beats Seattle, plus
– Indianapolis beats Jacksonville, plus
– Tennessee beats Houston

No problem.

 

 

Happy New Year everyone!



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