NFL Playoff Picture Week 17: AFC, NFC Scenarios Ahead of Sunday's Games

Joe TanseyJanuary 1, 2023

NFL Playoff Picture Week 17: AFC, NFC Scenarios Ahead of Sunday's Games

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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

    The top and bottom of the AFC playoff picture can be flipped by one result in Week 17.

    The Monday night clash between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals will go a long way in deciding the No. 1 overall seed.

    Sunday's AFC East battle between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots will be a deciding result in the wild card race.

    A Miami win makes the playoff math very simple for the Dolphins, but a Patriots victory opens up a realm of possibilities.

    In the NFC, most of the attention will be paid to the New York Giants and Washington Commanders.

    If the two NFC East teams win, the hopes of the three chasing teams dwindle going into Week 18.

AFC Playoff Picture

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    Foxborough, MA - December 24: Cincinnati Bengals WR Trenton Irwin, back left, celebrates scoring a second quarter touchdown. The Bengals beat the New England Patriots, 22-18. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
    John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via 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 No. 1 seed in the AFC could be decided in Week 17, but it likely will not.

    The Buffalo Bills need a win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday plus a loss by the Kansas City Chiefs to the Denver Broncos on Sunday to clinch home-field advantage.

    Kansas City is expected to win its AFC West contest inside Arrowhead Stadium, which will make Buffalo wait another week.

    The Bengals need the Chiefs to lose so they could take over the top spot in the AFC standings with a win over Buffalo. Cincinnati has a head-to-head win over Kansas City.

    Cincinnati can become the AFC North champion with a win and a Baltimore Ravens loss or tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. Baltimore already clinched a playoff spot.

    The contenders for the last wild card spot will be determined by the result at Gillette Stadium.

    Miami needs a win over New England to remain at least one game ahead of every team in the hunt for the No. 7 seed it currently possesses.

    The Dolphins will rely on Teddy Bridgewater to deliver them a victory after Tua Tagovailoa was ruled out with a concussion.

    A New England win opens a large set of possibilities in the wild card race.

    The New York Jets, who play Miami in Week 18, visit the Seattle Seahawks in the late afternoon window on Sunday. Pittsburgh, who is eliminated with a Miami win, takes on Baltimore on Sunday night.

    New England owns two head-to-head wins over the Jets and they defeated the Steelers. The Patriots are not in the clear by beating the Dolphins since they play the Bills in Week 18.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars will be more focused on winning the AFC South next week in a matchup with the Tennessee Titans. The Jags could be a player in the wild-card race in Week 18 if they beat the Houston Texans on Sunday and lose to the Titans.

NFC Playoff Picture

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 24: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 27-24. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
    David Berding/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 top of the NFC is easy to figure out.

    The Philadelphia Eagles can secure the NFC East crown and home-field advantage in the NFC with a win over the New Orleans Saints.

    The Minnesota Vikings need to keep winning to hold on to the No. 2 seed in their fight with the San Francisco 49ers.

    The NFC drama comes from the wild-card race, where one spot could be available by the end of Week 17.

    Daniel Jones and the New York Giants are in the postseason with a win over the Indianapolis Colts.

    New York is also in with a tie and some help, or through losses by two of the Seahawks, Commanders, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

    Washington needs to beat the Cleveland Browns and have Seattle, Detroit and Green Bay lose to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday.

    At minimum, the Commanders need a victory led by Carson Wentz to remain in front of the other three contenders for the No. 7 seed.

    The Seahawks would be the first team to benefit from a Washington loss. The Seahawks own a head-to-head win over the Lions. Detroit's divisional tiebreaker over Green Bay has it in front of the Packers.

    Seattle hosts the Jets, Detroit hosts the Chicago Bears and the Packers host the Vikings on Sunday.