NFL Playoff Picture 2017: Postseason Scenarios and Wild-Card Bracket

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2017

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 1: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to hand off the football against the Detroit Lions during second half action  at Ford Field on January 1, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It came down to the last game of the season, but the NFL playoff picture is now set. 

The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs earned the first-round byes in the AFC, while the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are the top seeds in the NFC.

Below is a look at the full playoff picture, followed by a breakdown of the wild-card matchups. 

The Playoff Picture is official.#NFLPlayoffs

— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2017


Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 25:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

A warm-weather team traveling to Pittsburgh in January is exactly the scenario the Steelers hope for every season. 

The Steelers are built for these types of games, with Le'Veon Bell leading a power running game and Ben Roethlisberger's big arm to sling the ball in any weather conditions. 

On the other side, the Miami Dolphins don't even know who their starting quarterback will be, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Matt Moore has started in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill for the past three weeks, but Salguero reports that Tannehill is expected to be cleared for practice this week. 

Regardless of who starts for the Dolphins, they will be making their postseason debut on the road at Pittsburgh—a scenario in which no quarterback has won since Tommy Thompson of the Philadelphia Eagles did so in 1947. 

The Dolphins made significant strides this season to reach the playoffs, but with everything stacked against them, the ride likely ends in Pittsburgh. 

Prediction: Steelers 28, Dolphins 17


Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 1:  Wide receiver Amari Cooper #89 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Connor Cook #8 in the third quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2017 i
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

If not for Derek Carr's unfortunate Week 16 injury, the Oakland Raiders would likely be at home on a bye. But Carr's injury created a quarterback dilemma in Oakland and opened the door for the Denver Broncos to pull off the upset on Sunday. 

The Raiders' loss, coupled with the Kansas City Chiefs' victory, dropped the Raiders from the No. 2 seed to No. 5. 

This playoff matchup will feature some combination of Matt McGloin and Connor Cook versus Tom Savage and Brock Osweiler—not exactly the high-profile quarterback showdown the NFL wants to showcase. 

As Rich Eisen of the NFL Network pointed out, if Cook gets the call for Oakland, it will be a historic moment:

Should Connor Cook start next week for @RAIDERS he would be first QB in the Super Bowl Era to get his first career start in the playoffs.

— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 2, 2017

It's tough to feel confident picking any of those quarterbacks to win a big game in January, but since Houston is at home and has the quarterbacks with slightly more experience, the Texans should be the favorites to advance. 

Prediction: Texans 20, Raiders 17


Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 5: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions and center Travis Swanson #64 of the Detroit Lions make signals before a play during a football game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 5, 2015 in Seat
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are limping into the postseason after blowing an opportunity to wrap up home-field advantage in the first round. 

The Lions' loss at home to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night allowed the Pack to clinch the NFC North title and sent the Lions traveling to visit the Seattle Seahawks. 

It has been well-documented over the years how difficult it is to play on the road in Seattle. The Seahawks have won nine straight playoff home games, dating back to the 2005 season. 

Including the playoffs, Seattle is also 26-2 at home against non-division opponents since Russell Wilson took over as the starting quarterback in 2012. 

Matthew Stafford is having a career year for the Lions, but it's a tall task to ask him to win his first career playoff game in that environment. 

Prediction: Seahawks 27, Lions 20


New York Giants at Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 04:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Packers followed through on Aaron Rodgers' promise to run the table by knocking off the Detroit Lions on Sunday night. 

During the Packers' six-game win streak, Rodgers threw for 15 touchdowns against zero interceptions. 

Eli Manning and the New York Giants certainly aren't looking forward to having to travel to Green Bay to face the hottest team in the league, but they won't be intimidated by the environment either. 

Manning has made a habit of winning on the road throughout his NFL career. In fact, he's managed to win two Super Bowl rings despite just one career victory at home in the playoffs. 

The last time the Giants played at Lambeau Field in the playoffs in 2012, Manning led them to a convincing 37-20 victory, which sent the Giants down the road to Manning's second Super Bowl victory. 

Despite the Giants' success at Lambeau, it's tough to pick against the hottest quarterback in the league in this matchup. Rodgers is arguably playing at the highest level of his career entering the postseason and appears to have the Packers in position for a deep playoff run. 

Prediction: Packers 31, Giants 21 


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