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NFL Playoffs 2020: Predictions for AFC, NFC Seeds and Matchups Before Week 17

Jake RillSenior Analyst IDecember 28, 2019

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 22: Wide Receiver Diontae Johnson #18 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a Touchdown and gets a ride on Wide Receiver JuJu SMith-Schuster's shoulders against the New York Jets in the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
Al Pereira/Getty Images

There's not much better in sports than the NFL playoffs, when the top 12 teams in the league battle it out on the road to the Super Bowl.

On Sunday, this season's NFL playoff field will be finalized. Everyone already has a good idea of what the AFC and NFC brackets will look like, as 10 teams have secured their postseason spots. But there are still two berths, two division titles and top seeds up for grabs on the final day of the regular season.

Heading into Week 17, here are predictions for what the NFL playoff field is going to look like.

               

Playoff Seed Predictions

AFC

1. Baltimore

2. New England

3. Kansas City

4. Houston

5. Buffalo

6. Pittsburgh

The top five teams in the AFC have already secured their berths in the postseason, including all four division winners. The Baltimore Ravens have locked up the No. 1 seed, and the Buffalo Bills will be the first wild-card team at the No. 5 spot.

As for the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, they have all won their respective divisions and will be the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds, although they are still jockeying for position in Week 17.

However, there likely won't be any changes in the order those teams are seeded. The Patriots just need to beat the Miami Dolphins at home to secure the No. 2 seed, which they will easily do to be the second team to earn a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

The Chiefs will secure the No. 3 seed with a home win over the Los Angeles Chargers, and that will leave the Houston Texans as the No. 4 seed regardless of whether they beat the Titans. But Houston will beat the Tennessee Titans at home, notching its second win over its AFC South foe in three weeks. And that will play a big part in the race for the second wild-card spot, which belongs to Tennessee heading into Week 17.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders are also alive in that race for the No. 6 seed, but they also both have tough games. Pittsburgh is on the road against Baltimore, which will still be a difficult matchup even though it's resting some key starters, and Oakland is on the road against the Denver Broncos.

Both the Steelers and Raiders are going to lose these challenging road contests. So how will that end the wild-card race?

Well, the Indianapolis Colts should beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, which would then force a three-way tie between them, the Titans and Steelers at 8-8. Pittsburgh wins that tiebreaker, and it will get the No. 6 seed despite losing its regular-season finale.

              

NFC

1. San Francisco

2. Green Bay

3. New Orleans

4. Philadelphia

5. Seattle

6. Minnesota

The Green Bay Packers are going to handily defeat the Detroit Lions on the road to lock up a first-round bye, but then they will have to await the result of the Sunday night game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks to see whether they can also get the No. 1 seed.

If San Francisco wins, it will not only be the NFC West champion, but it will also earn the No. 1 seed regardless of the results for the other top teams. And that's exactly what the 49ers will do.

Notching another big win to cap its impressive regular season, San Francisco will enter the playoffs with momentum after a road victory over Seattle to secure the NFC's top seed and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Whichever team loses the 49ers-Seahawks matchup will be the top wild card and go on the road in the Wild Card Round as the No. 5 seed. That will be Seattle, which will travel to face the NFC East champion.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys both enter Week 17 with a chance to win the NFC East, and whichever team claims the division crown will be the No. 4 seed. Philadelphia has a one-game lead and is in control in the race after it beat Dallas in Week 16.

With a win over the New York Giants, the Eagles will win the NFC East and get to the postseason. The Cowboys will beat the Washington Redskins, but it won't matter because they will stay a game behind Philadelphia and consequently miss out on the playoffs.

The rest of the NFC seeding will then fall into place. The New Orleans Saints have a chance to move up to the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, but the 49ers' and Packers' wins will keep New Orleans at No. 3.

The Minnesota Vikings are locked into the No. 6 seed because they lost to the Seahawks earlier in the season, so they lose that potential tiebreaker.