NFL Playoffs 2020: Known AFC, NFC Schedule and Updated Bracket Scenarios

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2019

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Mark Ingram during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Entering the final Sunday of the NFL regular season, only the Baltimore Ravens have assured themselves of a first-round bye.

Week 17, as a result, is packed with storylines, drama and a whole bunch of playoff scenarios.

In the AFC, the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs remain in the running for a coveted week to recover and prepare. And in the NFC, four teamsincluding two from the NFC Westare still in the chase for both home-field advantage or a bye.

We'll cover all those details, scenarios and more in this playoff primer heading into Week 17.

            

Playoff Schedule

Wild Card Round: Jan. 4-5
Divisional Round: Jan. 11-12
Conference Championships: Jan. 19
Super Bowl LIV: Feb. 2

          

NFL Standings Entering Week 17

AFC

1. Baltimore Ravens (13-2, clinched home-field advantage)
2. New England Patriots (12-3, clinched AFC East)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, clinched AFC West)
4. Houston Texans (10-5, clinched AFC South)
5. Buffalo Bills (10-5)
6. Tennessee Titans (8-7)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)
8. Oakland Raiders (7-8)

Either the Patriots or Chiefs can secure a first-round bye, and that discussion is simple. The Patriots will have a bye if they finish with a better regular-season record than the Chiefs, and if they're both 12-4, Kansas City would take it.

New England can finish no worse than No. 3, but the Chiefs could be fourth if they and the Texans both end 11-5. Houston, as a division champion, will be no lower than No. 4.

In the wild-card picture, No. 5 is set: It's the Bills.

But if you're a fan of drama, the second wild-card slot provides what you're seeking. Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Oakland all have a path to the playoffs in Week 17.

Tennessee's top scenario (win) is the most direct. The Titans could also secure a postseason berth despite a loss if the Steelers lose and either the Colts or Raiders also lose.

Although the Colts are eliminated, they're still a factor because the Raiders would advance in a four-way tie between Indianapolis, Oakland, Tennessee and Pittsburgh. If the Titans and Steelers lose but the Colts and Raiders win, the Titans head to the playoffs.

Pittsburgh needs a victory and a Titans loss to make the postseason.

          

NFC

1. San Francisco 49ers (12-3, NFC West leader)
2. Green Bay Packers (12-3, clinched NFC North)
3. New Orleans Saints (12-3, clinched NFC South)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7, NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
6. Minnesota Vikings (10-5)
In the NFC East race: Dallas Cowboys (7-8)

Vikings fans wanted a win to stay in the NFC North hunt, but the Packers' victory Monday night provided a whole lot of simplicity.

Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

If San Francisco topples the Seahawks during the final game of the regular season on Sunday night, the 49ers are the No. 1 seed. But if Seattle wins, the priority for home-field advantage shifts to Green Bay, then New Orleans, then Seattle.

That same priority applies to the second seed. If the 49ers win, the Packers could clinch a first-round bye with a win. If they lose, the Saints could slide into the No. 2 position.

Additionally, if Seattle wins after one of Green Bay or New Orleans falls, the Seahawks would be second.

Neither the Packers nor Saints can be worse than No. 3. Whichever team loses the clash in Seattle will be No. 5 as the NFC's top wild-card team, and the opponent will be the NFC East champion. But that isn't settled yet either.

The No. 4 seed will belong to the Eagles or Cowboys. Either a Philadelphia win or Dallas loss sends the Eagles to the playoffs, but a Philly loss and Dallas win allows the Cowboys to survive.

And, lastly, Minnesota will be sixth. The Vikings won't know their postseason opponent until the NFC West showdown ends.

          

Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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