Every spot in the AFC has been decided, while the NFC East and the conference’s last two berths are still up in the air heading into the final weekend.
There can still be some jostling for positions in the AFC thanks to Houston’s loss. Atlanta is the only club to secure home field advantage after the Texans failed in their attempt in a surprising loss to the streaking Vikings.
Houston left the window open for the Denver Broncos to snag the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but the Texans need to lose their final game to the Indianapolis Colts, who also punched their ticket in Week 16. The Bengals triumphed and knocked division rival Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.
The 49ers lost their grip on the NFC’s No. 2 seed after their monumental letdown against rising Seattle, who can still wrangle the NFC West with a win in Week 17 and another San Francisco loss.
Washington’s victory kept them atop the NFC East, but their match up with Dallas next week will decide the division. While the New York Giants, losers of five of their last seven games, have seen their playoff chances go from likely to life support.
Below is where each team stands and how they can move up or stand pat in Week 17.
Houston Texans (12-3): They were upset in Week 16 with Adrian Peterson tallying a tame 86 yards. Still Houston can retain home field advantage with a win over the Colts next week, thanks to their victory over Denver earlier in the season.
Denver Broncos (12-3): Peyton Manning may not want a week off with the Broncos riding a 10-game win streak. But two home games at Mile High would be nice. Denver needs a victory next week, and a Houston loss to move up.
New England Patriots (11-4): If the Broncos buck, the Patriots can capitalize as long as they win. They hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with Denver.
Baltimore Ravens (10-5): Maybe their offense has found a late-season groove. The Ravens blowout win over New York gave them the AFC North. Baltimore can move up to the No. 3 seed, but need a win and a New England loss.
Indianapolis Colts (10-5): Luck set a record, and the Colts completed a miraculous turnaround by clinching a wild card berth. They own the No. 5 seed and will wait out next week’s results to see who they play in the first round. However, they can thwart the Texans attempts for the No. 1.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-6): The Bengals overcame their rival and grabbed the AFC’s final playoff spot. Like the Colts, they’ll learn their first-round opponent next week.
Atlanta Falcons (13-2): The Falcons have the option to rest or try out new plays in Week 17.
Green Bay Packers (11-4): Since they lost to San Francisco earlier this year, Green Bay needs one more victory to assure a first-round bye.
San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1): San Francisco’s defense has struggled in their last two games, but a win captures the NFC West, or they could be on the road for the duration of the playoffs.
Washington Redskins (9-6): The Redskins can clinch their division with a win over Dallas next week and RG3 gets to host a playoff game in his rookie year. A loss puts them in the wild card mess.
Seattle Seahawks (10-5): Russell Wilson is on fire and so is Seattle. They need a win and San Francisco loss to win the division, but guaranteed a playoff spot after pounding on the 49ers on Sunday night.
Minnesota Vikings (9-6): Peterson’s chances at the single-season rushing record may have diminished, but Minnesota needs one more win to lock down a playoff spot. However they need to beat Green Bay to keep the teams behind them out.
Chicago Bears (9-6): A win over Detroit, and a Minnesota loss and they’re in.
Dallas Cowboys (8-7): A wild card spot is out of the question after their loss to New Orleans, but Dallas can win the NFC East by beating Washington next week.
New York Giants (8-7): The offense stalling in their last two games leaves New York hanging by a thread for a wild card spot. The Giants need a win, and losses from Dallas, Chicago, and Minnesota to make it.
Currently covering NBA, NFL, MLB, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, focusing on trades, controversy, and injury updates. Joined IB Times in August 2012.