NFL Playoff Picture 2023: Week 17 Scenarios, Standings and Predictions

Joe TanseyDecember 30, 2022

NFL Playoff Picture 2023: Week 17 Scenarios, Standings and Predictions

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 24: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Two Week 17 games could shift the entire dynamic of the AFC playoff picture.

    The Buffalo Bills will put their No. 1 spot in the conference on the line against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

    Buffalo must keep winning to hold on to home-field advantage. Cincinnati is playing for an outside shot at the top seed.

    The Sunday AFC East showdown between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots is vital to the hunt for the last wild card spot.

    A home win from New England opens up a whole realm of possibilities for Week 18.

    The NFC playoff picture is tamer since the three NFC East teams that need wins are at home and the NFC South could be decided by a head-to-head clash.

AFC Playoff Picture

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 24: Chris Jones #95 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after assisting on a quarterback sack during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
    David Eulitt/Getty Images

    Division Leaders

    1. Buffalo (12-3)

    2. Kansas City (12-3)

    3. Cincinnati (11-4)

    4. Jacksonville (7-8)

    Wild-Card Race

    5. Baltimore (10-5)

    6. Los Angeles Chargers (9-6)

    7. Miami (8-7)

    8. New England (7-8)

    9. New York Jets (7-8)

    10. Pittsburgh (7-8)

    11. Tennessee (7-9)

    12. Las Vegas (6-9)

    The Monday night clash between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals is the most important one with playoff implications in Week 17.

    A Buffalo win keeps it on top of the AFC going into Week 18. The Bills need a win on Monday and a Kansas City Chiefs loss to the Denver Broncos to clinch the top seed and home-field advantage.

    A win by Cincinnati shakes up the entire playoff picture with one week left. In that case, the Chiefs would lead the Bengals and then the Bills.

    Cincinnati needs to win out and have Kansas City lose once to use its head-to-head tiebreaker to move into the top position.

    The Bengals can also clinch the AFC North title with a win or tie on Monday and a Baltimore Ravens loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

    Baltimore is clear of the wild-card mess because it owns a two-game edge on the Miami Dolphins.

    Miami's visit to Gillette Stadium with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback will decide how complicated the AFC wild-card race gets.

    The New England Patriots sit directly behind Miami in the standings.

    Miami can clinch the final wild-card spot by beating the Patriots and with a New York Jets defeat to the Seattle Seahawks.

    A Miami loss means the No. 7 seed will not be clinched until Week 18.

    New England would be in the catbird seat to win the final wild-card position if it beats Miami on Sunday.

    The Patriots would move into the No. 7 spot in the AFC on the divisional-record tiebreaker.

    The New York Jets need to win in Seattle, and they must hope for a Miami win. That would set up the Week 18 Dolphins-Jets clash as a potential winner-takes-all game depending on what happens between New England and Buffalo next week.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans will play for the AFC South crown in Week 18.

    The loser of that game needs Miami to lose twice and for the Patriots and Jets to each lose once to even be mathematically alive in the wild-card hunt.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers can remain alive with a win over Baltimore. The Steelers need to root for a lot of losses in the next two weeks since they lost to the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets this season

    Las Vegas is still technically alive, and it will be officially eliminated with a loss to the 49ers on Sunday.


    1. Buffalo

    2. Kansas City

    3. Cincinnati

    4. Tennessee

    5. Baltimore

    6. Los Angeles Chargers

    7. New England

NFC Playoff Picture

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    ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 24: Kenneth Gainwell #14 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs with the ball during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)
    Sam Hodde/Getty Images

    Division Leaders

    1. Philadelphia (13-2)

    2. Minnesota (12-3)

    3. San Francisco (11-4)

    4. Tampa Bay (7-8)

    Wild-Card Race

    5. Dallas (12-4)

    6. New York Giants (8-6-1)

    7. Washington (7-7-1)

    8. Seattle (7-8)

    9. Detroit (7-8)

    10. Green Bay (7-8)

    11. Carolina (6-9)

    12. New Orleans (6-9)

    The NFC playoff picture is fairly easy to understand.

    The Philadelphia Eagles need one win in their next two games to clinch the NFC East title and home-field advantage.

    The Eagles can eliminate any worry going into Week 18 by defeating the New Orleans Saints at home on Sunday.

    The Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers will only trade positions beneath the Eagles if the Vikings lose in the next two weeks.

    The Dallas Cowboys can't move up from No. 5 unless the Eagles lose out.

    The NFC South champion will likely face the Cowboys in the opening round of the postseason.

    Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can lock up that title on Sunday with a win over the Carolina Panthers.

    A Carolina victory inside Raymond James Stadium sends the divisional title race to Week 18.

    The New York Giants and Washington Commanders could close up shop in the wild-card picture with wins and some help.

    New York is in with a home victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

    Washington clinched with a home win against the Cleveland Browns and with losses by the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

    Seattle hosts the Jets, Detroit is at home against the Chicago Bears and the Packers play host to the Vikings.

    Washington is still in a safe position if it loses because it could face a Dallas squad full of backups in Week 18. That would be in play if the Eagles beat the Saints.

    The Saints and Panthers need to win out and get some help to be considered in the wild-card race.

    One loss by either of the NFC South sides eliminates them from playoff contention.


    1. Philadelphia

    2. Minnesota

    3. San Francisco

    4. Tampa Bay

    5. Dallas

    6. New York Giants

    7. Washington