With two weeks left in the season, there are still seven playoff spots (four in the AFC, three in the NFC) and six division titles out there for the taking. And the No. 1 seed hasn’t been clinched in either conference. So we’re tracking the closest, most interesting races live during Week 17. Wondering how, say, a pick-six in one game right after a long touchdown run in another impacts the playoff race? We have you covered through all the swings and surprises.
Who will land the NFC’s No. 1 seed?
Three teams are tied with 11 wins atop the NFC, and there is only one bye to go around. The 49ers hold the conference win percentage tiebreaker over the Eagles and Lions heading into Week 17, but a lot can change. The Eagles haven’t even clinched the NFC East yet, so the Cowboys could take Philadelphia out of the running here. The Lions square off with those Cowboys on Saturday night, while the Eagles (vs. Cardinals) and 49ers (at Commanders) play Sunday. San Francisco can clinch the bye this week with a win and losses from Detroit and Philadelphia. Whichever team lands the top seed will of course skip the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Who will land the AFC’s No. 1 seed?
After the Chiefs lost on Christmas Day, the race for the AFC’s top seed has basically been reduced to a one-on-one battle between Baltimore (12-3) and Miami (11-4). And wouldn’t you know it, these two teams play each other Sunday. The Ravens can put an end to the race with a win. But a loss not only would keep the door open for the top seed, but it would also give the Browns a path to the AFC North title … and the No. 1 seed. Which team will get home-field advantage and a bye on this side of the bracket?
Three NFC playoff spots up for grabs
Four teams are in, but seven others are fighting for the final three spots (Chicago is also marginally alive, but its chances are below 1%). First, there is the NFC South, which Tampa Bay can clinch with a win against the Saints on Sunday. But even if the Bucs secure a third straight division title, a pair of wild-card spots will still be in flux. The Rams and Seahawks have paths to berths this week. L.A. can lock up a spot with a win (at Giants) and either a Seahawks loss or a Packers-Vikings tie. And Seattle can get in with a win (vs. Steelers) and a Packers-Vikings tie. Otherwise, this one is to be continued in Week 18.
Will the Jaguars hang on in the AFC South?
Who expected this? Entering December, the Jaguars were 8-3 and coming off a close victory over their division foes in Houston. Now? Jacksonville is on a four-game slide and suddenly tied with both Houston and Indianapolis in the AFC South. Even so, the Jaguars could finally exhale this week and clinch the division with a win (vs. Panthers) and losses from the Texans and Colts. If the Jaguars lose again, it will set up an interesting Week 18: Indy and Houston will be playing each other, while Jacksonville takes on Tennessee. It’s also worth noting that none of these teams has even clinched a postseason spot.