News and Notes

If The NFL Playoffs Started Today: The AFC Playoff Picture Is A Mess

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Heading into Week 17, we don’t know much about the NFL’s playoff picture except for what is happening at the top of the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. 

Past the Chiefs, seeds 2-7 in the AFC are up for grabs. The AFC East champion Bills have a leg up over the Steelers for the second seed as long as the former wins next Sunday against the Dolphins. Then, there’s the AFC Wild Card race…

Basically, there are five teams for four spots. The AFC South winner (Titans or Colts) still needs to be decided; and of course, the Ravens, Browns, Dolphins are vying for the other wild card spots with whoever the eventually loser of AFC South turns out to be.

The two biggest losers of Week 16 were Cleveland and Indianapolis. The Colts blew a 24-7 lead at Pittsburgh and fell out of the playoff picture for the moment. The Browns had a chance to punch their playoff ticket with a win against the Jets and then promptly lost. Ultimately, if every AFC wild card hopeful holds serve next week, the Colts will be the odd team out. 

The NFC is nearly as muddled. Green Bay is a win away from clinching the conference’s top seed. Meanwhile, the Saints will grab the second seed over Seattle as long as they win in Carolina. While three of the four division winners have been settled, the conference’s albatross – the NFC East – still is in search of a winner. That will be decided next Sunday night when the Washington Football Team plays in Philadelphia. 

If Washington wins they are in. If they lose, the winner of the Cowboys/Giants game earlier on Sunday will claim the division title. 

Tampa is in as a wild card. The Rams, Bears, and Cardinals are competing for the other two spots. The Rams and Cardinals will play in what amounts to an elimination game (with a pair of backup quarterbacks potentially) if the Bears win at home earlier against the Packers. 

AFC

#1 – Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West champion, bye) – clinched division, home-field advantage (vs. LAC)

#2 – Buffalo Bills (AFC East champion)  – clinched division (vs. MIA)

#3 – Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North champion) – clinched division (@ CLE)

#4 – Tennessee Titans (AFC South champion) (@ HOU)

#5  – Miami Dolphins (Wild Card) (@ BUF)

#6 – Baltimore Ravens (Wild Card) (@ CIN)

#7 – Cleveland Browns (Wild Card) (vs. PIT)

NFC

#1 – Green Bay Packers  (NFC North champion, bye)* – clinched division (@CHI)

#2 – New Orleans Saints (NFC South champion) – clinched division (@ CAR)

#3 – Seattle Seahawks (NFC West champion) – clinched division (@ SF)

#4 – Washington Football Team (NFC East champion) (@ PHI)

#5 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Wild Card) (vs. ATL)

#6 – Los Angeles Rams (Wild Card) (vs. ARI)

#7 – Chicago Bears (Wild Card) (vs. GB)

PROPOSED, FICTIONAL TV SCHEDULE

WILD CARD ROUND:

SATURDAY, JANUARY 9 @ 1:05PM – #7 Chicago Bears at #2 New Orleans Saints (ESPN)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 9 @ 4:40PM – #5 Miami Dolphins at #4 Tennessee Titans (CBS)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 9 @ 8:15PM – #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #4 Washington Football Team  (NBC)

SUNDAY, JANUARY 10 @ 1:05PM – #7 Cleveland Browns at #2 Buffalo Bills (CBS) 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 10 @ 4:40PM – #6 Los Angeles Rams at #3 Seattle Seahawks (FOX)

SUNDAY, JANUARY 10 @ 8:15PM – #6 Baltimore Ravens at #3 Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC)

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF ROUND:

SATURDAY, JANUARY 16 @ 4:30PM – (NBC)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 16 @ 8PM – WAS/TB/LAR/CHI at #1 Green Bay Packers (FOX)

SUNDAY, JANUARY 17 @ 3PM – (FOX)

SUNDAY, JANUARY 17 @ 6:30PM – TEN/MIA/BAL/CLE at #1 Kansas City Chiefs (CBS)

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