USA TODAY Sports
The playoff picture could get a little more focused this week.
There are two weeks left in the regular season. The postseason is on the horizon, an enticement to get you through the madness of the holidays, assuming your team still has a shot at playing football in January (Jaguars fans, you may start thinking about the draft - the 2014 draft). We should know more about which teams are headed to the postseason after this weekend and some idea about what the seeding order looks like.
Five teams can clinch playoff spots this week. Three more can secure either a first-round bye or home-field advantage. Two teams can sew up a division title. Let's start by taking a look at this week's most important games. Note - these are not the only games with playoff implications, but these games will go a long way toward determining what the final playoff picture looks like.
Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles - Philly is going through the motions at this point, but proved to be somewhat effective at it last week. But East Coast Norv Turner has no playoff hopes; all eyes are on the Redskins. Washington needs a win along with losses by the Giants, Vikings and Bears to clinch a playoff spot. What that means is RGIII and the Cowboys will probably be playing for all the marbles in Week 17.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks - San Francisco can secure the NFC West, which isn't as funny as it used to be, with a win in Seattle. That is easier said than done. A 49ers' win and a Green Bay loss would give the Niners a bye. Seattle has its own aspirations, with mini-RGIII. A win would guarantee Seattle a playoff spot.
New York Giants vs. Baltimore Ravens - Any minute now, Jim Caldwell's game plan is going to kick into gear, sending Joe Flacco to the stratosphere of eliteness. Maybe not. If the Ravens do win this one, they will be the AFC North champs. Baltimore already has a playoff spot. The Giants need to win if they're to keep hope alive in the NFC East race. A loss would at least finally, maybe be the start of the Giants eclipsing the Jets for coverage in the nation's largest media market.
To save me from writing out all the numerous scenarios and you from having to read my hackishness, here's a handy dandy chart from the gang over at Cincy Jungle:
|New England||AFC East|
|Clinch AFC North||BAL Win OR|
|BAL tie + CIN loss or tie|
|Clinches First-Round Bye||HOU or tie OR|
|NE loss or tie OR|
|Clinches Home-Field Advantage||HOU win OR|
|HOU tie + DEN loss or tie OR|
|NE loss or tie + DEN loss|
|Clinches First-Round Bye||DEN win + NE loss or tie OR|
|DEN tie + NE loss|
|Clinches Playoff Spot||IND win or tie OR|
|IND clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over CIN OR|
|PIT loss or tie|
|Clinches Playoff Spot||CIN Win|
|Green Bay||NFC North|
|San Francisco||Playoff Berth|
|Clinches First-Round Bye||ATL win or tie OR|
|GB loss or tie OR|
|Clinches Home-Field Advantage||ATL win OR|
|ATL tie + SF loss or tie OR|
|GB loss or tie + SF loss|
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
|Clinches NFC West||SF win or tie|
|Clinches First-Round Bye||SF win + GB loss or tie OR|
|SF tie + GB loss|
|Clinches Playoff Spot||WAS win + NYG loss + CHI loss + MIN loss|
|Clinches Playoff Spot||SEA win OR|
|SEA tie + NYG loss + CHI loss or tie OR|
|SEA tie + NYG loss + MIN loss or tie OR|
|SEA tie + CHI loss or tie + MIN loss or tie OR|
|SEA tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + CHI loss or tie OR|
|SEA tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + MIN loss or tie OR|
|CHI loss + MIN loss + WAS loss OR|
|CHI loss + MIN loss + DAL loss or tie + WAS tie|
NEW YORK GIANTS
|Clinches Playoff Spot||NYG win + CHI loss + MIN loss + DAL loss + WAS loss or tie OR|
|NYG win + CHI loss + MIN loss + WAS loss + DAL tie|