NFL playoff scenarios, Week 17: Final AFC, NFC wild card spots still up for grabs

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Week 17 has never looked so good.

The NFL couldn't have asked for a crazier setup for the final weekend of the regular season.

Playoff standings are not set in either conference, there's a three-way tie for the final wild card spot in the AFC, and the final week of the NFC schedule will feature two play in games for division championships.

Here are the standings and scenarios to note heading into the final week of the season.

(X) - clinched playoff berth (Y) - clinched division


No. 1 - (X) Seattle 12-3

No. 2 - (X) Carolina 11-4

No. 3 - Philadelphia 9-6

No. 4 - Chicago 8-7

No. 5 - (X) San Francisco 10-4

No. 6 - New Orleans 10-5

In the hunt: Arizona 10-5, Green Bay 7-7-1, Dallas 8-7

With the 49erswin on Monday Night Football in Week 16, they wrapped up a playoff spot. They also still have a scenario that would net them the NFC West championship and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. San Francisco needs to beat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 and have the Seahawks lose to the St. Louis Rams.

Arizona, meanwhile, is clinging to postseason life. The Cardinals are tied with the Saints for the final wild card spot, but New Orleans has the tiebreaker. If the Cardinals beat the 49ers and the Saints lose to the Buccaneers in Week 17, Arizona will get the final wild card spot in the NFC.

The simplest of scenarios are in the NFC North and NFC East. The Packers and Bears play each other for the NFC North championship, and the Cowboys and Eagles will play each other for the NFC East championship. The playoffs start early for those four teams.

(X) - clinched playoff berth (Y) - clinched division


No. 1 - (Y) Denver 12-3

No. 2 - (Y) New England 11-4

No. 3 - (Y) Cincinnati 10-5

No. 4 - (Z) Indianapolis 10-5

No. 5 - (X) Kansas City 11-4

No. 6 - Miami 8-7

In the hunt: Baltimore 8-7, San Diego 8-7, Pittsburgh 7-8

Seeding in the AFC is still up for grabs. The Patriots clinched their division in Week 16 and need a win as well as a Broncos loss in Week 17 to take back the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Denver plays in Oakland, while the Patriots are home against the Bills.

If the Bengals beat the Ravens and New England loses, the Bengals would get a first-round bye. The Colts have an outside shot at a bye too, with a win over the Jaguars, a Patriots loss and a Bengals loss or tie.

With the top five teams locked into the playoffs, the only undecided participant in the AFC playoffs is the No. 6 seed. The Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers are all tied for the second wild card spot. If all three teams win in Week 17, Miami will head to the playoffs. If Miami and Baltimore win, but San Diego loses, Baltimore will head to the postseason since it has the head-to-head tiebreaker with Miami. If the Chargers win, but the Ravens and Dolphins lose, the Chargers get the final wild card spot. But if all three teams lose and Pittsburgh wins, the Steelers will sneak away with the No. 6 seed.

Stay tuned for a wild Week 17 in the NFL.

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