UPDATE, (10:20 p.m. ET): The 2014 NFL playoff schedule and bracket has been set.
UPDATE (7:50 p.m. ET): Following the first two rounds of Week 17 games. slate of games, here is the current playoff picture:
|NFC standings||AFC Standings|
|1. x -Seattle (13-3)||1. z - Denver (13-3)|
|2. z - Carolina (12-4)||2. z - New England (12-4)|
|3. Philadelphia or Dallas||3. z - Cincinnati (11-5)|
|4. z - Packers (8-7-1)||4. z - Indianapolis (11-5)|
|5. x - San Francisco (12-4)||5. x - Kansas City (11-5)|
|6. x - New Orleans (11-5)||6. x - San Diego (9-7)|
The Cowboys and Eagles will decide the NFC East champs and third seed in the NFC on Sunday night.
With only eight of the 12 playoff spots clinched, it's going to be a must-see Week 17 in the NFL. While teams battle for the final playoff berths, only Kansas City is locked into its current seed. There is a whole lot that can change this week throughout the NFL.
Things are especially fluid in the NFC where the Seattle Seahawks could clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs or potentially drop as low as the No. 5 seed and be forced to go on the road next week. Things are more clear in the AFC, but home-field advantage and both first-round byes are still up for grabs.
Here's a look at where things stand and the possible scenarios.
(X) - clinched playoff berth (Y) - clinched division
NFC playoff standings
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 11-4
No. 6 - New Orleans 10-5
In the hunt: Arizona 10-5, Dallas 8-7, Green Bay 7-7-1
The focus will be on Chicago and Dallas, where the NFC North and NFC East divisions will be settled respectively. The Bears will host the Packers with the winner taking the NFC North. The Eagles will travel to Dallas with the winner clinching the NFC East. The final wild card spot comes down to New Orleans and Arizona. If the Saints win, they are in. Arizona needs to win and have New Orleans lose to make the playoffs. Here are all of the clinching and seeding scenarios.
Seattle clinches the NFC West and the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win/tie or a San Francisco loss/tie.
What to watch, Week 17
Nearly every game on the Week 17 schedule has playoff implications. The others will affect the NFL Draft order.
Carolina clinches the NFC South and a first-round bye with a win/tie or a New Orleans loss/tie. The Panthers clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage with a win, a Seattle loss and a San Francisco win.
The Eagles clinch the NFC East with a win/tie against Dallas. If they get a result, they will be the No. 3 seed.
The Cowboys clinch the NFC East with a win against the Eagles. If Dallas and Chicago win, the Cowboys will be the No. 4 seed. If Dallas and Green Bay win, the Cowboys will be the No. 3 seed.
The Packers clinch the NFC North and the No. 4 seed with a win at Chicago.
The Bears clinch the NFC North with a win/ tie against Green Bay. If Chicago and Philadelphia win, the Bears will be the No. 4 seed. If Chicago and Dallas win, the Bears will be the No. 3 seed.
San Francisco would clinch the NFC West and a first round bye with a win and a Seattle loss to St. Louis. The 49ers would clinch home-field advantage with a win and losses by Seattle and Carolina. If the 49ers win/tie and Seattle wins/ties, the 49ers are the No. 5 seed. San Francisco is also the No. 5 seed if the Saints lose. If the 49ers lose and the Saints win, San Francisco drops to the No. 6 seed.
The Saints will clinch a playoff spot with a win or an Arizona loss. New Orleans would clinch the NFC South and a first-round bye with a win and a Carolina loss. If the Saints, 49ers and Panthers win, New Orleans will be the No. 6 seed. If the Saints and Panthers win and the 49ers lose, New Orleans would be the No. 5 seed. New Orleans would clinch the No. 6 seed with a loss and an Arizona loss.
Arizona would clinch the No. 6 seed with a win and a New Orleans loss. If New Orleans wins or the Cardinals lose, Arizona is eliminated.
AFC playoff standings
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
Although more is settled in the AFC, the race for the final wild card spot is much more complicated. Four teams remain in contention, but none of the four have a clear path. Each will need help from other teams to get in, even if they win. There is also seeding up for grabs. New England could wind up with the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage, or drop as low as the No. 4 seed.
The Broncos clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage with a win/tie or a New England loss/tie.
The Patriots clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage with a win and a Denver loss. New England will clinch a first-round bye with a win/tie. It also takes the No. 2 seed with a loss if Cincinnati and Indianapolis lose/tie. If the Patriots and Colts lose and Cincinnati wins, New England will be the No. 3 seed. If it loses and both Cincinnati and Indianapolis win, the Patriots will be the No. 4 seed.
Cincinnati will clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a win and a New England loss. If the Bengals and Patriots win, Cincinnati is the No. 3 seed. If the Bengals lose and the Colts win, the Bengals are the No. 4 seed. If the Colts lose, Cincinnati can do no worse than the No. 3 seed.
The Colts have an outside shot at a first-round bye and would clinch the No. 2 seed if they win, the Patriots lose and the Bengals lose/tie. If the Bengals and Colts win with New England losing, Indianapolis would be the No. 3 seed. The Colts would also move up to No. 3 with a win and a Bengals loss/tie.
The Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed regardless of what happens in Week 17.
Miami can clinch the No. 6 seed four different ways. If the Dolphins win and the Ravens lose/tie, Miami is in. Miami is also in with a win and a Chargers win. If Miami ties, it would need the Ravens to lose and the Chargers to lose/tie. In the event Miami, Baltimore and San Diego all tie, the Dolphins make the playoffs. If Miami loses, it is out, regardless of the other outcomes.
A Baltimore win and a San Diego loss/tie sends the Ravens back to the playoffs. Baltimore is also in with a win and a Miami loss/tie. If the Ravens tie, the Dolphins lose and the Chargers lose/tie, Baltimore is the No. 6 seed. The same works with a Ravens tie, a Dolphins tie and a Chargers loss. Baltimore can make the playoffs with a loss, but would need the Dolphins to lose, the Chargers to lose and the Steelers to lose/tie.
The Chargers need to win and have Miami and Baltimore lose/tie. San Diego can also get in with a tie and losses by the Ravens and Dolphins.
The only way for Pittsburgh to get in is if the Steelers win and Miami, Baltimore and San Diego all lose.