With only one football-filled Sunday remaining in the regular season, all but two postseason berths have been clinched. All six teams in the AFC are set with just seeding to be determined, while Week 17’s divisional showdown between the Packers and Lions will determine the final teams in the NFC.
The biggest game of the week is of course that one in the NFC North, but several others have playoff implications – including Giants-Redskins, Saints-Falcons and Seahawks-49ers. Since things can still change on both sides of the bracket, we decided to predict where every team will land when it’s all said and done.
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NFC: 1. Dallas Cowboys (14-2)
The Cowboys are locked in as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, so there’s no movement to be had here. They’ll likely rest their starters some – Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith and a few others battling injuries, at least – but even their backups are probably good enough to nab a win over the Eagles in Week 17.
Remaining schedule: PHI (W)
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2. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
The Falcons moved past the Seahawks for the No. 2 seed last week, and they’ll remain in that spot at season’s end. The Saints’ best asset is a high-octane offense, but Atlanta’s is even better. New Orleans won’t have enough firepower to knock off the Falcons and take away their first-round bye.
Remaining schedule: NO (W)
3. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
My, how the mighty have fallen. The Seahawks are limping into the postseason, quite literally, too. Tyler Lockette is injured, as is Thomas Rawls, which doesn’t bode well for an offense that’s already struggling. Still, a win will keep them in the No. 3 seed, and I expect that to happen.
Remaining schedule: @SF (W)
4. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers need a win to clinch the NFC North, and while it’ll be a back-and-forth offensive exhibition with the Lions, Green Bay will pull out a win for its sixth consecutive ‘W’ of the year. Even if the Packers do lose, they’ll still get into the postseason if Washington loses earlier in the day, though I don’t expect either to happen.
Remaining schedule: @DET (W)
5. New York Giants (11-5)
Coach Ben McAdoo and the Giants aren’t going anywhere with regards to playoff seeding, and that’s a good thing. Considering their Week 17 game against the Redskins is meaningless, the Giants would be smart to rest starters and heal up for a first-round road game – potentially at Seattle or Green Bay. Those are two teams you don’t want to play on the road, so health will be key.
Remaining schedule: @WAS (L)
6. Washington Redskins (9-6-1)
Here’s where things get interesting. If the Redskins win, they’re in. Lose, and they’re out. The Giants have nothing to play for, so Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and several others might get the day off. If that’s the case, Washington has a good shot at getting into the postseason. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins have plenty of weapons on offense and are good enough to warrant a playoff spot. Even if the Giants do play everyone, the Redskins could nab a victory.
Remaining Schedule: NYG (W)
AFC: 1. New England Patriots (14-2)
Despite New England’s remarkable success this season, it’s still not locked in as the No. 1 seed. Tom Brady and the Patriots will need a win over the Dolphins to clinch home-field, or a loss by the Raiders to the Broncos. Miami will be motivated despite being in the playoffs already, but the Patriots will handle the Phins and not leave anything up to Oakland.
Remaining schedule: @MIA (W)
2. Oakland Raiders (13-3)
The Raiders unfortunately will go into the postseason without Derek Carr at the helm, but at least they’ll do so with a first-round bye – well, in this scenario, at least. New starting QB Matt McGloin and Oakland need a Week 17 win to avoid the possibility of the Chiefs stealing the division and the No. 2 seed, as well.
Remaining schedule: @DEN (W)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
The Steelers are among the teams with nothing to play for in Week 17. They’re going to be the No. 3 seed no matter what, so as Ben Roethlisberger eluded to, they’re likely to rest players. The Browns, coming off their first win of the season, still won’t do enough to beat Pittsburgh’s backups, though.
Remaining schedule: CLE (W)
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4. Houston Texans (10-6)
The Texans enter the postseason as arguably the worst team to make it, namely because of their terrible offense. Tom Savage likely will get a full game of work in Week 17 despite Houston clinching the No. 4 seed, and he’ll need it. Facing the Chiefs in the first round, as they probably will, won’t be easy for Mr. Savage.
Remaining schedule: @TEN (W)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
The Chiefs are one of the five best teams in the league right now, yet they’ll probably still end up with the fifth seed in the AFC. That’s because the Raiders just need a win to clinch the AFC West regardless of Kansas City’s result in Week 17. The Chiefs will still be motivated and hungry for a win on Sunday, though.
Remaining schedule: @SD (W)
6. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
Miami is the last of the AFC teams in the postseason as all six squads are set – only seeds have yet to be determined. Matt Moore and the Dolphins would love to enter the playoffs coming off of an upset against the Patriots, but don’t expect that to happen. The Patriots need a win to seal home-field advantage, and Tom Brady undoubtedly will want to bolster his MVP campaign with a 400-yard day.