It all comes down to this. With just one week remaining in the regular season there are still many questions left unanswered. The NFC playoff teams are set with just who will play who scenarios left. In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets are competing for the final wild card spot, and the Indianapolis Colts are hanging on to slim chances of winning the AFC South and earning the right to play post-season football.
Shall we begin? Starting the NFC because it is a little easier to understand, the Carolina Panthers (14-1) and the Arizona Cardinals (13-2) have each clinched their respective divisions and first round byes. If the Panthers win this Sunday, or if the Cardinals lose, they clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Cardinals win and the Panthers lose, Arizona would move up to the 1 seed and have home field advantage. The winner of this Sunday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers (10-5) and the Minnesota Vikings (10-5) will win the NFC North and be the 3 seed hosting the 6 seed. If both the Seattle Seahawks (9-6) and Packers win, the Seahawks would be the 5thseed and play the Washington Redskins (8-7) who are the 4th seed. If the Seahawks lose or if the Vikings win, Seattle would be the 6th seed and play in Minnesota in the first round.
Now on to the wide open AFC. The New England Patriots (12-3) currently hold the 1 seed and home field advantage. They secure that with either a win or a Denver Broncos (11-4) loss, who are currently the 2nd seed. Here is where things get dicey. The Broncos with a loss and a win by the 3rd seeded Cincinnati Bengals (11-4), move the Bengals into the 2 seed and a first round bye. If the Broncos lose and the Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) win, the Chiefs would hold the tiebreaker over Denver and win the division and the 3rd seed. The Bengals would get the 2 seed in this situation as they hold the tie breaker over the Chiefs. The 4th seed is currently held by the Houston Texans (8-7). The Indianapolis Colts (7-8) are still alive, but barely. In order for the Colts to take the AFC South from the obviously need to win and have the Texans lose. They also need some crazy scenarios to play in their favor though. They need the Bengals, Chargers, Jets, Saints, Chiefs, Patriots, and Browns to all lose in order to hold the tiebreaker over the Texans.
As for the wildcard, that is currently held by the Chiefs and the New York Jets (10-5), who are the 5th and 6th seeds respectively. If the Chiefs were to lose and the Jets win, they would flip flop seeds. If the Broncos lose, and the Chiefs and Jets both win, the Jets would be the 5th seed and the Broncos the 6th. If the Jets lose and the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6) win, the Steelers are the 6th seed and the Jets are the odd team out. If both the Steelers and the Jets lose, the Jets remain the 6th seed and the Steelers would be the odd team out.
Good thing that this race is simplified after 16 weeks huh?