There are still plenty of questions to be answered as the NFL season hits Week 17.
One of those questions is in the AFC West, where the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers have been fighting all season and have the best records in the AFC at 11-4.
The Chiefs have the edge in the race for first place and the No. 1 seed in the conference because they own the better divisional record, but they have not taken advantage of the opportunities they have had in the last two weeks to clinch both the division and the top seed.
The Chargers hope the Chiefs slip up again this week against the Oakland Raiders while they record a victory in Denver against the Broncos. If those two scenarios play out, the Chargers will soar to the top position.
The NFC questions concern playoff seedings and a wild-card battle with the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles. One of those two teams will earn a spot in the postseason tournament, and the other will be watching playoff games on TV in the new year.
We will explore the possibilities going into the final week of the season, and here's a link to the full league standings as Week 17 looms.
AFC Playoff Standings
1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, clinched playoffs)
2. New England Patriots (10-5, clinched AFC East)
3. Houston Texans (10-5, clinched playoffs)
4. Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-4, clinched playoffs)
6. Indianapolis Colts (9-6)
7. Tennessee Titans (9-6)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1)
A win over the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium is quite likely for the Chiefs, but it is not guaranteed. The two teams played in Oakland in Week 13, and the Raiders battled hard before losing by a 40-33 score.
The Raiders have won three of their last six games, and they are playing much better than they were in the first half of the season.
Oakland head coach Jon Gruden is clearly inspired to lead his team to a victory over Kansas City.
The Chargers lost at home to the Broncos in Week 11, and that loss has been costly. Even though the Chargers have the same record as the Chiefs, that loss is the reason the Chiefs have the better divisional record (4-1 vs. 3-2).
The Chargers should have the advantage, but the Broncos are at home and have a decent chance to give the visitors a 60-minute battle.
The Patriots have clinched the AFC East title and can assure themselves of a bye in the wild-card round by beating the Jets at home in the season finale. It would be a shocker if they lost to the Jets in what could be head coach Todd Bowles' final game.
Don't expect the Patriots to take the Jets lightly. They follow Bill Belichick's lead, and he rarely says anything disparaging about any opponent.
"It's the National Football League," Belichick said, per Nicole Yang of the Boston Globe. "Good teams and good players every week, every year, you can't just show up in this league. You have to be ready to play against the best of the best every week."
If the Patriots lose, the Houston Texans will move into the No. 2 spot by beating the disappointing Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans have dropped two of three games after their nine-game winning streak, but the combination of quarterback Deshaun Watson and wideout DeAndre Hopkins should get the job done.
If the Texans lose, they will be relegated to wild-card status.
The Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans are playing a win-and-in game Sunday night in the final game of the regular season.
The winner of that game will most likely be the AFC's No. 2 wild-card team, but if Houston loses at home to Jacksonville, the victor will be the AFC South champions. The loser of the Indianapolis-Tennessee game in Nashville will fail to qualify for the postseason.
The Ravens passed the Steelers in the AFC North last week after beating the Chargers on the road while the Steelers fell short against the New Orleans Saints, and Baltimore will win the division title with a win against the Cleveland Browns.
Lamar Jackson has given the Ravens a lift at quarterback, but the Browns have a chance for a winning record—not a misprint—with a win in this game.
Pittsburgh should roll at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, but they need the Browns to upset the Ravens to win the division title. The Steelers have a remote chance of gaining the No. 2 wild-card spot if they beat the Bengals and the Colts-Titans game ends in a tie.
NFC Playoff Standings
1. New Orleans Saints (13-2, clinched NFC South)
2. Los Angeles Rams (12-3, clinched NFC West)
3. Chicago Bears (11-4, clinched NFC North)
4. Dallas Cowboys (9-6, clinched NFC East)
5. Seattle Seahawks (9-6, clinched wild-card)
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
The Saints have earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, while the Cowboys are locked in at No. 4 spot.
The NFC West champion Rams have the edge for the No. 2 spot over the NFC North champion Bears, and they will have a bye during the wild-card round if they beat the San Francisco 49ers at home.
That scenario is quite likely, but if the Niners upset the Rams, the Bears can move into the No. 2 spot if they beat the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Both the Bears and Rams would have a 12-4 record in that scenario, and the Bears would have the edge since they beat the Rams head-to-head in Week 14.
The Seahawks clinched a wild-card spot in Week 16 with their impressive 38-31 victory over the Chiefs, and they will have the No. 1 wild-card spot if they beat the Arizona Cardinals in Seattle or the Vikings lose to the Bears.
In the battle for the final NFC playoff spot, the Vikings will try to hold off the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings have a half-game lead over the Eagles, and they will maintain that edge if they win their season finale.
If the Bears win the game, that will open things up for the Eagles, who play the Redskins in Washington to close the season
The Saints appear to be in an excellent position to win the Super Bowl. That game will be played February 3 in Atlanta, and New Orleans will play two games at home prior to playing the championship game in the home of their long-time division rival Falcons.
The Saints lost their season opener at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they have not lost another game at the Superdome.
They have a huge advantage in their own stadium, where their fans are supportive and their offense functions at a high level. That's one of the reasons the Saints are +250 favorites (bet $10 to win $25) to win the Super Bowl, per OddsShark.
The Rams were undefeated through Week 8 and looked like the best team in the NFL in the first half of the season, but they have dropped three games in the second half of the season. They are the +390 second choice to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, while the Chiefs are the top AFC representative at +450.
The Eagles are on the outside of the playoff structure looking in, but they still have a chance to make it. The defending champions are the longest shot on the board at +5000.
Super Bowl Odds (per OddsShark)