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NFL Week 17 playoff picture before Vikings-Packers


Just one game remains in Week 17 of the 2023 NFL season.

And what a big game it is.

The Green Bay Packers will square off with the Minnesota Vikings later tonight, in a game that is pivotal for both teams’ playoff hopes. With just one spot left left up for grabs in the NFC playoffs, the winner of tonight’s game will slide into that seventh spot ahead of the final week of the regular season.

While the loser will be on thin ice.

Here is how the NFL playoff picture shapes up ahead of the final game of Week 17.

NFC

In right now

1. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) – z*
Remaining game: Rams

2. Dallas Cowboys (11-5) – x
Remaining gam: at Commanders

3. Detroit Lions (11-5) – z
Remaining game: Vikings

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)
Remaining game: at Panthers

5. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) – x
Remaining game: at Giants

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-7) – y
Remaining game: at 49ers

7. Seattle Seahawks (8-8)
Remaining game: at Cardinals

In the hunt

8. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
Remaining game: Falcons

9. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
Remaining games: Packers, at Lions

10. Green Bay Packers (7-8)
Remaining games: at Vikings, Bears

11. Chicago Bears (7-9)
Remaining game: at Vikings

12. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
Remaining game: at Saints

z – Clinched division
x – Clinched playoff spot
y – Clinched Wild Card
* – Clinched homefield advantage

San Francisco’s win over Washington, along with losses by Detroit and Philadelphia, secured homefield advantage for the 49ers throughout the NFC playoffs.

Dallas and Detroit have matching 11-5 records, but the Cowboys’ win over the Lions on Saturday night, while controversial, gives them the tiebreaker edge. The Lions slide into the third spot in the conference. We’ll break down why the Cowboys are atop the NFC East right now in a moment.

As for the NFC South, despite their loss to the Saints the Buccaneers are still atop the division, despite having the same record as New Orleans, and the teams having split their season series. They also have matching 3-2 records in the division, so the next tiebreaker — record in common games — is applied. Right now, the Buccaneers hold the advantage in that tiebreaker.

Philadelphia had a chance to remain in the hunt for the top seed, but their loss to Arizona now puts their hopes for the NFC East in peril. At the moment the Cowboys have the edge, thanks to the fourth tiebreaker between the teams. Philadelphia and Dallas have matching records, and they tie in head-to-head record, division record and record in common games played.

The fourth tiebreaker — conference record — has Dallas (8-3) ahead of Philadelphia (7-4).

The Rams locked up a Wild Card spot with their win, and the Seahawks’ loss to the Steelers. Seattle remains in the seventh spot at this hour, but that is in peril. At the moment they have the same record as the Saints, but hold a tiebreaker advantage over New Orleans with a better conference record.

Should tonight’s game between Minnesota and Green Bay end in a tie, Seattle will stay in the seventh spot. But the winner of that game, if there is one, will bump Seattle out of seventh.

Right now, the Vikings are in ninth, ahead of the Packers, due to a better conference record. But again, should one of those teams win tonight’s game, they will slide into the seventh spot.

The Bears and the Falcons are both still alive. Atlanta can still win the division, despite their loss to Chicago on Sunday. But to do so they would need to beat the Saints next week, and see the Buccaneers lose to the Panthers. For Chicago, to get in they would need a win over Green Bay next week, and a whole lot of help.

NFC playoff matchups if the postseason started today

If the NFC playoffs began today, these would be the three matchups on Wild Card Weekend:

  • Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
  • Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
  • Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The San Francisco 49ers would have the first-overall seed, and the first-round bye, in the NFC.

This will be updated after the Vikings-Packers game.

AFC

In right now

1. Baltimore Ravens (13-3) – z*
Remaining game: Steelers

2. Miami Dolphins (11-5) – x
Remaining game: Bills

3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Remaining game: at Chargers

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)
Remaining game: at Titans

5. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – y
Remaining game: at Bengals

6. Buffalo Bills (10-6)
Remaining games: at Dolphins

7. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
Remaining game: Texans

In the hunt

8. Houston Texans (9-7)
Remaining game: at Colts

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)
Remaining game: at Ravens

z- Clinched division
x – Clinched playoff spot
y – Clinched Wild Card
* – Clinched homefield advantage

In the AFC, Baltimore’s win over the Dolphins means the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC goes through the Ravens, as Baltimore now has homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. They have also secured the AFC North.

Miami still has clinched a playoff spot and has the inside track to the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but they still need to beat Buffalo in Week 18 to clinch the division.

The Chiefs’ win over Cincinnati, coupled with losses from the Broncos and the Raiders, wraps up the AFC West for Kansas City.

Houston, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville are all tied with matching 9-7 records. But as noted in previous installments of this series, the Jaguars have tiebreaker advantages over both teams. They swept the Colts, and they have a better division record than the Texans.

Cleveland clinched a playoff spot with their win on Thursday night, and with Baltimore’s win on Sunday, the Browns are now slotted into a Wild Card spot.

As for the final two playoff spots in the AFC, Buffalo and Indianapolis are in those two spots for the moment. Buffalo’s 10-6 records slides them into the sixth spot. Houston, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh all have matching 9-7 records. Division tiebreakers are applied first to eliminate one of the AFC South teams, and the Colts’ Week 2 win over Houston “eliminates” the Texans. Then, the Colts’ win over Pittsburgh drops the Steelers out, and puts Indianapolis into the seventh spot for now.

Then between Houston and Pittsburgh, the Texans have the advantage thanks to an early-season win over Pittsburgh.

AFC playoff matchups if the postseason started right now

If the AFC playoffs began today, these would be the three matchups on Wild Card Weekend:

  • Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins
  • Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
  • Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars



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