NFL Playoff Scenarios: What If Teams Took Week 17 Seriously?

Frank Fittipaldi@@Frank_FittiCorrespondent IIJanuary 20, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks on against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

At the end of every regular season, teams that have clinched playoff berths prior to Week 17 tend to rest their starters or not take the game seriously.

In Week 17 of the 2010 regular season, there were a few games that involved teams that could have possibly taken a week off.

With the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye already locked up, the Chicago Bears took on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The Packers just needed a win to get into the playoffs, and although the game was close, the Bears did not seem to play to their fullest potential.

Have the Bears showed up in Week 17, the playoff scenarios could have been different, but how so?

If the Bears would have defeated the Packers in Week 17, Eli Manning and the Giants would have taken over the sixth and final seed for the playoffs.

If this were the case, the Giants would have gotten a chance to redeem themselves against the Philadelphia Eagles after being swept during the regular season.

Many Giants fans believe that they could be the ones in the NFC Championship and not the Packers.

Moving on, we look at why teams should take Week 17 seriously.

Although this is a different circumstance, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a playoff berth clinched and were the No. 2 seed in Week 17. Had they lost to the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers would have dropped from the second to the sixth seed with no first-round bye and no home games.

Every game during the regular season is critical for the postseason. Looking back, we see how if the outcomes were different, the playoff scenarios would have been much different as well.