Week 17 of the NFL season is always a nerve-racking time for teams in the thick of the chase for playoff spots and preferable seeds, and the final weekend of the regular season facilitated plenty of drama across the league.
Whether it was the New England Patriots fighting for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers looking to lock up the AFC's final wild-card spot or the Houston Texans hoping to snag an AFC South title, Sunday was loaded with high-stakes football.
Before diving into the updated playoff picture, here's a look at the Week 17 scoreboard:
|Detroit Lions def. Chicago Bears, 24-20||Calvin Johnson: 137 yards, 1 TD|
|New Orleans Saints def. Atlanta Falcons, 20-17||Drew Brees: 323 yards, 1 TD|
|Philadelphia Eagles def. New York Giants, 35-30||Sam Bradford: 320 yards, 2 TD|
|Buffalo Bills def. New York Jets, 22-17||Sammy Watkins: 136 receiving yards|
|Pittsburgh Steelers def. Cleveland Browns, 28-12||Antonio Brown: 187 yards, 1 TD|
|Houston Texans def. Jacksonville Jaguars, 30-6||Brian Hoyer: 249 yards, 1 TD|
|Indianapolis Colts def. Tennessee Titans, 30-24||Coby Fleener: 88 yards, 1 TD|
|Miami Dolphins def. New England Patriots, 20-10||Ryan Tannehill: 350 yards, 2 TD|
|Washington Redskins def. Dallas Cowboys, 34-23||Kirk Cousins: 176 yards, 3 TD|
|Cincinnati Bengals def. Baltimore Ravens, 24-16||Jeremy Hill: 96 yards, 1 TD|
|Seattle Seahawks def. Arizona Cardinals, 36-6||Russell Wilson: 197 passing yards, 3 TD|
|Kansas City Chiefs def. Oakland Raiders, 23-17||Kansas City's 10th straight win|
|Carolina Panthers def. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-10||Cam Newton: 293 passing yards, 2 TD|
|Denver Broncos def. San Diego Chargers, 27-20||Peyton Manning replaces Brock Osweiler|
|San Francisco 49ers def. St. Louis Rams, 19-16 (OT)||Blaine Gabbert: 354 pass yards, 1 TD|
|Minnesota Vikings def. Green Bay Packers, 20-13.||Adrian Peterson: 67 yards, 1 TD|
Updated Playoff Picture
|1. Carolina Panthers||Clinched home-field throughout playoffs||1. Denver Broncos||Clinched home-field throughout playoffs|
|2. Arizona Cardinals||Clinched first-round bye||2. New England Patriots||Clinched first-round bye|
|3. Minnesota Vikings||Clinched NFC North||3. Cincinnati Bengals||Clinched AFC North|
|4. Washington Redskins||Clinched NFC East||4. Houston Texans||Clinched AFC South|
|5. Green Bay Packers||Clinched Wild Card Spot||5. Kansas City Chiefs||Clinched Wild Card Spot|
|6. Seattle Seahawks||Clinched Wild Card Spot||6. Pittsburgh Steelers||Clinched Wild Card spot|
We'll start in the AFC. The Texans took care of business and locked up the AFC South, which means they will host a Wild Card Round contest next weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In more surprising news, the Steelers downed the Cleveland Browns and are into the playoffs as the AFC's final wild-card team by virtue of the Jets' loss to the Buffalo Bills in a sloppy display by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed a season-low 43% of his passes His previous low was 44% in Week 10 against the Bills— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 3, 2016
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport summed up the scene for the winning and losing sides:
"We understand the consequences," Jets head coach Todd Bowles said, per the NFL Network's Kimberly Jones. "We got to live with it."
Another stunning development: The Patriots' loss to the Miami Dolphins allowed the Denver Broncos to seize control of their own destiny and capture home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 27-20 win over the San Diego Chargers.
Here is a look at the complete bracket from SNF on on NBC:
A look at the AFC Playoff Schedule: pic.twitter.com/eak9FgYhXo— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 4, 2016
The NFC seeding structure is pretty straightforward. The Carolina Panthers locked up home-field advantage thanks to the Arizona Cardinals' loss to the Seattle Seahawks. As a result, Arizona is locked into the No. 2 seed and will only travel on the road if it squares off against Carolina in the NFC Championship Game.
The race for the No. 3 seed ended on Sunday Night Football when the Minnesota Vikings downed the Green Bay Packers, 20-13. The victory gave the Vikings the NFC North championship and a home game on Wild Card Weekend against the Seattle Seahawks.
Green Bay falls to the No. 5 spot and will hit the road to play the NFC East champion Washington Redskins.
SNF on NBC shared the NFC playoff bracket after the game ended:
Minnesota surely is happy to win the division, but the back-to-back NFC Champion Seahawks come into the playoffs having won six of seven games, including a 36-6 victory over the No. 2 Cardinals in Week 17.
However, when it comes to the playoffs, anything can happen. Teams can't worry about who or where they are playing, instead they have grind it out for four quarters and take it one game at a time if they want to take home the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 50.