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NFL Playoff Scenarios 2020: Week 17 Picture and Latest Bracket Predictions

Jake RillSenior Analyst IDecember 28, 2019

DUPLICATE***San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd (17)***San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (17) carries against New Orleans Saints strong safety Vonn Bell (24) in the first half an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)
Brett Duke/Associated Press

There are several big questions entering Week 17 of the NFL regular season.

Which team will secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC? Which team will earn the second AFC wild-card berth? And will the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys win the NFC East?

On Sunday, we'll get all of the answers as all 32 NFL teams will be in action on the final day of the regular season. There's the potential for plenty of excitement, and it should last into Sunday night, as the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks will play a pivotal game for the NFC West title to wrap up the slate of matchups.

Here's a look at the current NFL playoff picture, followed by predictions for how these unanswered scenarios will play out.

     

NFL Playoff Picture

AFC

Division Leaders

1. Baltimore (13-2)

2. New England (12-3)

3. Kansas City (11-4)

4. Houston (10-5)

     

Wild Cards

5. Buffalo (10-5)

6. Tennessee (8-7)

     

In the Hunt

7. Pittsburgh (8-7)

8. Oakland (7-8)

     

NFC

Division Leaders

1. San Francisco (12-3)

2. Green Bay (12-3)

3. New Orleans (12-3)

4. Philadelphia (8-7)

     

Wild Cards

5. Seattle (11-4)

6. Minnesota (10-5)

     

In the Hunt

7. Dallas (7-8)

     

Bracket Predictions

49ers Beat Seahawks to Secure NFC West Title, No. 1 Seed

The NFC West title is on the line in Sunday night's 49ers-Seahawks game in Seattle, but this matchup will decide a lot more than that.

If San Francisco wins, it will be the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If Seattle wins, it will be either the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 seed. The loser will be the No. 5 seed and have to go on the road next weekend as a wild-card team.

When these two rivals played in Week 10, the Seahawks notched a 27-24 overtime victory on a Monday night in San Francisco. Expect another thriller between the two teams Sunday night, as these are two of the best in the NFL going head-to-head with a lot at stake.

However, this time, the 49ers will win, finishing their impressive regular season at 13-3 and securing home-field advantage through the playoffs. In Week 14, they notched a big road win at New Orleans, and they'll use that experience to go on the road and secure another huge victory.

     

Eagles Win to Secure NFC East Title, Trip to Playoffs

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 22: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After a disappointing start to the season, the Eagles have been surging in recent weeks. In Week 13, they lost to the Dolphins to fall to 5-7, and it seemed like things weren't going to end well for them this year.

However, Philadelphia has won three straight games, beating each of its NFC East rivals, including a big home win over Dallas last week that moved it into first place in the division. Now, the Eagles control their own playoff destiny, as a road win over the Giants will get them into the postseason as the No. 4 seed.

Philadelphia beat New York in overtime at home in Week 14, but don't expect this game to be as close. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz continues to play well, and he should have a big showing to lead his team into the postseason.

It may not have been the most impressive regular season for the Eagles, but they'll enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak and get to host a game in the Wild Card Round.

     

Steelers Lose yet Still Get into AFC Playoffs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 22: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Al Pereira/Getty Images

Sure, the Steelers are facing a Ravens team that is resting some of its key starters, including quarterback Lamar Jackson. But it's still going to be a challenging AFC North road matchup for Pittsburgh, which will have third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges back under center.

And while a win would certainly help the Steelers in the race for the second AFC wild card, it may not be necessary. The Titans and Raiders also have tough road games this week, as Tennessee travels to play Houston and Oakland takes on Denver.

With the Titans and Raiders both losing, it won't matter if the Steelers also lose as long as the Colts beat the Jaguars, which they should do handily.

Therefore, Pittsburgh won't have much momentum heading into the postseason, but it will be the No. 6 seed in the AFC. And of course, anything can happen once a team gets into the playoffs.