The NFL season enters its final week with 16 Sunday games and with plenty of questions surrounding the playoff seeding in the NFC, and the wild-card status of the AFC.
The most curious situations are in in the NFC South and the AFC North. With the New Orleans Saints eliminated, the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons battle for the NFC South division title at the Georgia Dome. Should the game end in a tie, the Panthers would advance. The other five NFC playoff teams are already known, but where they are seated is a different story, as all five teams have 11-4 records and only the Dallas Cowboys have clinched their division.
In the AFC North, the winner of the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers game at Heinz Field will decide the winner of the division. The Bengals could miss the playoffs with two losses, but can still earn a playoff berth if the Baltimore Ravens lose to Cleveland and the San Diego Chargers lose to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Two scenarios will get the Baltimore Ravens into the postseason with the final wild-card berth. The Ravens will need a win over the Browns and the Bengals to lose to the Denver Broncos and Steelers. The Ravens can also get through with a win over the Browns, and with the Chiefs defeating the Chargers.
Along with the Ravens, the Chargers, Chiefs, and Houston Texans are in the hunt for the final wild-card spot. The Chargers’ wild-card chances are simple. If they win, they’re in, and if they lose, they’re out. The Chiefs can earn the final wild-card spot with a win over the Chargers, combined with a Ravens loss, and a Texans loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans earn a wild-card berth if they beat the Jaguars, and the Chargers and Ravens lose.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills were all eliminated in Week 16. A look at the NFL standings is an easy way to digest the often-complicated playoff picture.
Here is the schedule for Week 17 with the early betting odds from Las Vegas:
Carolina (+3.5) at Atlanta 1:00 PM ET FOX Over/Under 47.5
Cleveland (+8.5) at Baltimore 1:00 PM ET CBS Over/Under 42.5
Dallas (+7.5) at Washington 1:00 PM ET FOX Over/Under N/A
Indianapolis (-7) at Tennessee 1:00 PM ET CBS Over/Under 47
Jacksonville (+9.5) at Houston 1:00 PM ET CBS Over/Under 40.5
San Diego (+2.5) at Kansas City 1:00 PM ET CBS Over/Under 43
NY Jets (+4.5) at Miami 1:00 PM ET CBS Over/Under 42
Chicago (+7) at Minnesota 1:00 PM ET FOX Over/Under 43.5
Buffalo (+10.5) at New England 1:00 PM ET CBS Over/Under N/A
Philadelphia (+2.5) at NY Giants 1:00 PM ET FOX Over/Under 51
New Orleans (-3.5) at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET FOX Over/Under 45
Detroit (+7.5) at Green Bay 4:25 PM ET FOX Over/Under 48
Oakland (+14.5) at Denver 4:25 PM ET CBS Over/Under N/A
Arizona (+4.5) at San Francisco 4:25 PM ET FOX Over/Under N/A
St. Louis (+10) at Seattle 4:25 PM ET FOX Over/Under N/A
Cincinnati (+3.5) at Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET NBC Over/Under N/A