It’s all come down to this. Typically we’re accustomed to the final game of the regular season being a gentle coast into the playoffs. Yes, there’s always a game of two that will settle things up — but nothing like this.
As is stands there are still seven playoffs spots open across the NFC and AFC, with as many as four different teams having the ability to shake up the order after Week 17 and sneak in. It’s a remarkable end to a bizarre season, and this week we’ll look a little deeper at the games that will decide the playoffs.
The AFC had just one team on the bubble right now with a dozen different scenarios of how they could get in. The Colts could finish with an 11-5 record and still miss the playoffs due to the overall strength of the conference. The easiest path for them right now involved taking care of their own business against Jacksonville, which all but one of our panel thinks they’ll do, but also Cleveland losing to the Steelers.
Pittsburgh has been a hot mess in recent weeks, leading to the majority of the experts picking against them, but it’s not like the Browns have been more reliable. Heck, they’d be safely in if they beat the Jets last week. Instead they blew it, and left the door open to get bounced.
The NFC is where things get even wilder. The entire NFC East is still up for grabs. Washington is in the driver’s seat right now, but both the Cowboys and Giants could possibly win, depending on how this weekend goes. A WFT win over the Eagles seals it, and there’s a split between the panel this week. Dallas and New York could conceivably make it as well, with the experts overwhelmingly believing in the Cowboys to get the job done.
But that’s not all there is to watch in the NFC. The Cardinals are trying to sneak their way in, and the Bears are trying to hold on. Of these games it’s Arizona that has the easier path, playing the Rams this week. It’s not like that’s an easy game, per se — but the Bears play the Packers. Everyone thinks Green Bay will win this one, and the Packers have been on a role all season long.
Ultimately this has been one of the wildest, most unpredictable in recent memory. It’s appropriate given how 2020 has gone.