The NFL playoff picture is coming into focus as Week 17 concludes. While many clubs have already sewn up a postseason berth, several playoff spots are still up for grabs. Let’s review the updated standings and assess which teams enhanced or impaired their postseason chances this weekend.
For analysis of all the NFL action from Week 17, scroll down below the standings.
Week 17 NFL Playoff Picture
Following the events of Week 17, only three postseason berths remain unclaimed. Week 18’s Titans-Jaguars will determine the winner of the AFC South, while there’s one Wild Card slot available in each conference.
AFC Playoff Picture
1. y-Kansas City Chiefs (13-3)
2. y-Buffalo Bills (12-3)
3. x-Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)
5. x-Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)
6. x-Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
7. New England Patriots (8-8)
In the Hunt
8. Miami Dolphins (8-8)
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
10. e-New York Jets (7-9)
11. Tennessee Titans (7-9)
12. e-Cleveland Browns (7-9)
13. e-Las Vegas Raiders (6-10)
14. e-Indianapolis Colts (4-11-1)
15. e-Denver Broncos (4-12)
16. e-Houston Texans (2-13-1)
NFC Playoff Picture
1. x-Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
2. y-San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
3. y-Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
4. y-Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)
5. x-Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
6. x-New York Giants (9-6-1)
7. Seattle Seahawks (8-8)
In the Hunt
8. Detroit Lions (8-8)
9. Green Bay Packers (8-8)
10. e-Washington Commanders (7-8-1)
11. e-New Orleans Saints (7-9)
12. e-Carolina Panthers (6-10)
13. e-Atlanta Falcons (6-10)
14. e-Los Angeles Rams (5-11)
15. e-Arizona Cardinals (4-12)
16. e-Chicago Bears (3-13)
Eagles Fail To Clinch for Second Straight Week
Earlier this season, it looked like the Eagles would cruise to an NFC East title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. But following back-to-back losses, Philadelphia is in danger of losing both the division and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Let’s start with the NFC East. If the Eagles lose to the Giants in Week 18, and the Cowboys beat the Commanders, Dallas would win the division based on their conference record. Philadelphia can still clinch the division with a win next Sunday.
It’s a similar story for the No. 1 seed. The Vikings are no longer in contention for the bye, but the 49ers would take over the top seed if they win and Philadelphia loses in Week 18. Dallas could grab home-field advantage if they win and both the Eagles and 49ers lose.
Luckily for the Eagles, Jalen Hurts is expected to be available next week after missing two games with a shoulder injury. Hurts and Co. manhandled the Giants in Week 14 in a 48-22 victory, and New York has nothing to play for in Week 18.
Meanwhile, because the Buccaneers defeated the Panthers on Sunday, the Saints could no longer win the NFC South. They were officially eliminated from playoff contention when the Packers defeated the Vikings.
Buccaneers Clinch NFC South
While the Buccaneers’ 2022 season looked nothing like most expected, the end result is the same: Tampa Bay is the NFC South champion. The Tom Brady-Mike Evans connection that we’ve all been waiting for finally clicked as Brady hit Evans for 207 yards and three touchdowns in a defeat of the Panthers.
The Bucs will be the NFC’s fourth seed, meaning they’ll host the top Wild Card team in Round 1. At present, that looks like it will be the Cowboys, but it could also potentially be the Eagles, which would set up a rematch of last year’s Tampa Bay-Philadelphia opening-round game.
Carolina is eliminated with the loss, but interim head coach Steve Wilks has to be commended for his efforts since taking over for Matt Rhule after Week 5. The Panthers continued to play hard and got themselves back into the playoff discussion. Wilks will be a legitimate candidate to take over as Carolina’s full-time head coach.
Giants Clinch Wild Card Berth With Win Against Colts
The Giants continued their improbable run to the playoffs by officially clinching a Wild Card spot with a win over the Colts. Daniel Jones threw two touchdowns and ran for two more, while Landon Collins managed a 52-yard pick-six. This will be the Giants’ first playoff appearance since 2016.
New York is locked into the sixth seed in the NFC. Big Blue is on track to play either the Vikings or 49ers in the first round of the playoffs. With nothing on the line, Brian Daboll may choose to rest his starters against the Eagles in Week 18.
Lions Crush Bears To Stay Alive in Playoff Race
One week after suffering an embarrassing loss to the Panthers, the Lions destroyed the Bears to remain in the Wild Card race. Jared Goff was nearly flawless, completing 21 of 29 attempts for 255 yards and three touchdowns, while Detroit’s defense held Justin Fields to just seven completions and 75 yards through the air.
Detroit, Green Bay, and Seattle are all still in play for the seventh seed in the NFC, but the Lions will need the most help. In Week 18, Detroit will have to beat the Packers and hope the Seahawks lose to the Rams in order to clinch a playoff spot.
Commanders Eliminated From Playoffs
If a few games had gone Washington’s way on Sunday, they could have clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Browns. Instead, the Commanders have been eliminated after allowing Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper to carve them up in a 24-10 loss.
Washington entered Week 17 as the seventh seed in the NFC. But their loss, plus wins by the Lions and Packers, means the Commanders are no longer in contention for a Wild Card slot — something head coach Ron Rivera didn’t appear to know was a possibility.
Carson Wentz, starting for the first time since Week 6, was absolutely dreadful, managing just 143 yards and three interceptions. Washington has nothing on the line in Week 18, but they may use their final game to continue to evaluate Wentz.
Chiefs Still Have a Shot at AFC’s Top Seed
By defeating the Broncos for the second time in a month, the Chiefs still have a chance to capture home-field advantage in the AFC. Andy Reid and Co. will be watching Monday night’s Bills-Bengals game in earnest.
If Buffalo wins, Kansas City will slide back to the No. 2 seed. But if Cincinnati gets a victory, the Chiefs will stick in the top spot and control their own destiny in Week 18. KC plays the Raiders to close out the season.
Patriots Control Their Playoff Destiny
The Patriots have ensured they control their path to the playoffs by taking down the Dolphins on Sunday. If New England beats the Bills in Week 18, they’ll be in the postseason as a Wild Card team. However, next Sunday won’t be easy, as Buffalo still has to compete for the No. 1 seed following the Chiefs’ win today.
Miami was already starting backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but they had to turn to third-stringer Skylar Thompson after Bridgewater suffered a finger injury. The Dolphins can still make the playoffs, but they’ll need to beat the Jets in Week 18 and have the Patriots lose that aforementioned game to the Bills.
Packers Beat Vikings, Face Must-Win Week 18
The Packers took down the Vikings 41-17 on Sunday, and they could face them again in the first round of the playoffs. Green Bay has won four straight games to re-insert themselves back into the NFC Wild Card race, but their season will all come down to Week 18.
If the Packers defeat the Lions next Sunday, they’ll be in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the NFC. There is no playoff path for Green Bay that involves a loss next week. Provided they can beat the Lions in Week 18, the Packers will likely face the Vikings or 49ers in the first round of the postseason.
The Vikings will slip from the No. 2 seed to the No. 3 seed thanks to the 49ers’ win over the Raiders, and Minnesota no longer has a chance to secure home-field advantage. Even if the Vikings end up with the same record as the Eagles, Philadelphia holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
49ers Can Still Earn No. 1 Seed in NFC
It took an interception in overtime for the 49ers to defeat the Jarrett Stidham-led Raiders, but San Francisco earned its ninth straight win on Sunday. Given Minnesota’s loss, the 49ers are now the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Additionally, San Francisco still has a path to home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. If the 49ers beat the Cardinals in Week 18, and the Eagles lose to the Giants, San Francisco would take the No. 1 seed.
Meanwhile, the Raiders have been formally eliminated from the playoffs. Josh McDaniels’ rough first season in Las Vegas will end without a postseason appearance, and the Raiders’ roster could look much different in 2023.
Seahawks Stay Alive, Jets Eliminated
Following three consecutive losses, the Seahawks got back on track with a 23-6 win over the Jets on Sunday. By doing so, Seattle will remain in contention for the No. 7 seed in the NFC, but they’ll need some help.
The Seahawks need to beat the Rams next week and hope the Lions can take down the Packers. If both of those outcomes hit, Seattle will be in the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Jets have been officially eliminated from the AFC playoff race. Earlier this season, New York looked like a lock for the postseason, but five straight losses tanked their chances.
Steelers Still Have a Shot at the Playoffs
Kenny Pickett’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Najee Harris with 56 seconds remaining against the Ravens gave the Steelers their eighth win of the season and — for the time being — kept their playoff hopes alive. Pittsburgh still has a path to the dance, but it’s extremely narrow.
First, the Steelers have to beat the Browns in Week 18. Early lines have Pittsburgh favored by 2.5 points at home. Additionally, Mike Tomlin’s squad needs the Patriots to lose to the Bills and the Dolphins to fall to the Jets. The Steelers will sneak into the playoffs as the sixth seed if that happens.
The Ravens will slip from the No. 5 to the No. 6 seed following Sunday night’s loss. If the Bengals beat the Bills on Monday, they’ll win the AFC North and lock in Baltimore as a Wild Card team. If Cincinnati loses, Week 18’s Ravens-Bengals contest will decide the division.