We’re so close to the playoffs that I can smell them! There is plenty to play for this weekend, and I’ll break it down for you right after we talk about the Thursday Night Football stinker. Oh, wait, maybe that’s what I smell …
Another TNF Stinker: Cowboys 27, Titans 13
It’s not the NFL or Prime Video’s fault that the Titans decided to sit Derrick Henry out of this game, essentially making it a for-sure Cowboys win, but overall, the TNF slate has been stinker after stinker again this season. You would think that for as much money as Amazon spent to secure the rights to TNF, they would have tried to make sure they had a better offering of games. There’s probably more to that than I care to get into right now, but it stunk most of the season.
Dak Prescott threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns, as the Cowboys rolled the Titans in a game that was never in question. Prescott also threw two ugly picks, sticking with a troubling recent trend, and the most fun part of the game was seeing Josh Dobbs toss his first NFL touchdown after spending six seasons on practice squads or inactive.
Week 17 AFC Playoff Picture and Implications
Let’s take a look at where the AFC playoff picture (x = clinched playoff berth, y = clinched division, z = clinched No. 1 seed):
- Bills – y (12-3)
- Chiefs – y (12-3)
- Bengals – x (11-4)
- Jaguars (7-8)
- Ravens (10-5)
- Chargers (9-6)
- Dolphins (8-7)
In the hunt (with record and chance of making postseason):
- Titans (7-9, 22.2%)
- Jets (7-8, 18.9%)
- Patriots (7-8, 9.6%)
The Bills and the Bengals play on Monday Night Football in possibly the most anticipated game of the season, one that will also go a long way in deciding the No. 1 seed in the AFC. If Buffalo wins, they will stay in the top spot heading into Week 18. If the Bengals win, they fall behind the Chiefs (with a Kansas City win over the Broncos) and into a tie for the No. 2 seed with Cincinnati. That, of course, would drop them to the No. 3 seed if Buffalo and Cincinnati win in Week 18 because of the head-to-head tiebreaker going to the Bengals. Big MNF matchup to say the least.
The Chiefs are in a great position to jump the Bills for the No. 1 seed in the AFC with two games remaining against the Broncos and Raiders, both of which are dumpster fires. Kansas City looks good to finish 14-3 this season, possibly in the top spot in the AFC playoffs.
The Jaguars control their destiny at this point. Win out against the Texans and Titans and they win the AFC South and earn the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs.
The Ravens are a game behind the Bengals and have the Steelers at home this week before a Week 18 showdown with the Bengals. Baltimore needs a win against Pittsburgh and a Bengals loss if they hope to walk into Cincinnati with a chance to win the division next week.
The Chargers clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Colts on Monday, so their final two games against the Rams and Broncos are for seeding purposes only. If they win out and the Ravens lose out, they can move up to the fifth seed but no higher. If things go wrong, the worst they can do is slide down one spot into the eighth seed.
The Dolphins can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday with a win over the Patriots and a Jets loss or tie against the Seahawks. But they’ll have to do it without Tua Tagovailoa, who has been ruled out of this week’s contest as he remains in concussion protocol.
A loss to the Dolphins would end the Patriots season, but winning out against the Dolphins and Bills would guarantee New England a playoff spot. Their chances aren’t great, and they’ll need to hope that Buffalo rests their starters in Week 18, but they’re still kicking entering this weekend.
Mike White is back under center for the Jets, but it may be too little, too late for New York. They need to win against the Seahawks and Dolphins, and the Patriots need to lose another game. That’s their path to the postseason, and it’s not easy.
The Titans’ path to the postseason is simple: Beat the Jaguars in Week 18. Win and in, lose and see you next year.
Week 17 NFC Playoff Picture and Implications
Let’s take a look at where the NFC playoff picture (x = clinched playoff berth, y = clinched division, z = clinched No. 1 seed).
- Eagles – x (13-2)
- Vikings – y (12-3)
- 49ers – y (11-4)
- Buccaneers (7-8)
- Cowboys – x (12-4)
- Giants (8-6-1)
- Commanders (7-7-1)
In the hunt (with record and chance of making postseason):
- Lions (7-7, 32.9%)
- Packers (6-8, 27.7%)
- Seahawks (7-7, 22.6%)
The Eagles can clinch the NFC East and the No. 1 seed with a win over the Saints on Sunday. The Eagles could also clinch the NFC East with a tie against New Orleans, but that scenario would require a Vikings loss or tie in Green Bay to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The Vikings only path to the top seed in the NFC requires them to beat the Packers and Bears, and the Eagles losing to New Orleans and the Giants. It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s possible.
The 49ers are in a similar situation as the Vikings. A path to the No. 1 seed exists, but it isn’t very likely. San Francisco would need to win out, the Eagles to lose out, and the Vikings to lose at least one of their final two games.
A win over the Panthers locks up the NFC South for the Buccaneers this weekend. Conversely, if they lose to Carolina, the Panthers would own the tiebreaker for the division, putting the Bucs in a must-win position in Week 18.
The Cowboys are pretty much where they are right now. Anything moving the Cowboys up or down in the seeding seems unlikely at this point.
Here’s where things get fun. The Giants can clinch a playoff berth and lock up the sixth seed with a win in either of their two remaining games. With New York taking on the Colts at home this week, you can pretty much take that to the bank.
That leaves the seventh and final seed up for grabs between the Commanders, Seahawks, Lions, and Packers (thanks, Dolphins). Washington can clinch the final spot this week with a win against the Browns and losses by the Seahawks and Lions and a loss or tie for the Packers.
Detroit holds head-to-head tiebreakers over the Giants and Commanders, but not against Seattle. Essentially, they need Washington to lose this week, and they need to win this week if they want to be in this conversation next week.
Got all that? Phew.
- Ian Rapoport provides an update on Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, and Joey Bosa. Hurts practiced in limited fashion on Thursday, so he’s questionable. Jackson missed his 11th straight practice with a PCL sprain, so don’t expect him to play for Baltimore on Sunday. However, Joey Bosa might be able to play this weekend for Los Angeles.
- Deebo Samuel was seen practicing and dancing this week, which is a great sign of his potential return during the playoffs.
- I wish the Bears had a Justin Jefferson. Or a Davante Adams … (come on, Vegas fire sale!)
- The Raiders are pretty much a disaster right now. David Carr is almost certainly out the door, a very frustrated Josh Jacobs is a free agent at the end of the season, and Davante Adams likely won’t want to stick around for a full-blown rebuild at 30 years old.
- Tom Brady with the biggest proverbial F.U. to this weird and drawn-out question from a reporter in Tampa Bay lol: