With half of the playoff spots still up for grabs and nearly a dozen NFL teams still in the hunt, Week 17 promises to be a fantastic finish to the regular season. Even with six of the eight divisions already claimed and the top seed in the AFC locked up, there's still plenty to be determined this coming Sunday, including other teams jockeying for position at the top of next year's draft.
After an eventful Week 16 full of unexpected results, seven playoff spots in the expanded field of 14 remain unclaimed. And there are 11 teams alive for one of these seven spots so there are quite a few "win and you're in" games on the all-divisional docket.
In the AFC, the South is the only division that's still up for grabs. Tennessee can win it with a victory over Houston, while Indianapolis needs to beat Jacksonville, who has already sewed up the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, to stay in the equation for one of the remaining wild cards. The Titans and Colts are among the five AFC teams that enter Week 17 with a 10-5 record. With only four spots left, one of these double-digit-win teams will be left out of the expanded postseason field.
The other wild-card contenders in the AFC are Miami, Baltimore and Cleveland. The Dolphins will be in Buffalo to face the Bills, who are battling the Steelers for the No. 2 seed. Pittsburgh will play the Browns on the road while the Ravens will be in Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that has won two in a row. There are obviously all sorts of possible scenarios (read the full breakdown) based on how the five teams fare on Sunday, but consider that Indianapolis could finish 10-6 in a tie with Tennessee (if Titans also lose) for the division title and not make the playoffs.
That's not the case in the NFC where thanks to the East, there will be one team with a losing record in the playoffs. Washington (6-9) is in the driver's seat to win the division and host a playoff game with a victory in Philadelphia on "Sunday Night Football." Dallas (6-9) and the New York Giants (5-10) are both still alive as well and they'll play each other earlier on Sunday. This much is clear — only one team from the NFC East is getting in.
The top seed in the NFC also is still in play. It currently belongs to Green Bay (12-3) right now but the Packers will face a Chicago team that can get in the playoffs with a win. The Bears (8-7) are vying with the Rams (9-6) and Cardinals (8-7) for the last two wild-card berths, and it just so happens that Los Angeles and Arizona will play each other the same time Chicago hosts Green Bay. The Rams and the Bears are best positioned entering this game, but Los Angeles has injury issues and Chicago is playing an archrival that wants that first-round bye.
Should Green Bay fall, New Orleans or Seattle, both 11-4, could sneak in and grab the top seed. The Saints will take on Carolina on the road while the Seahawks will face the 49ers in their temporary home of State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Green Bay is best positioned to take the No. 1 seed and coveted first-round bye but there's a path for New Orleans or Seattle to wind up with it. It should make for a highly entertaining Sunday.
So which teams will come out on top in every NFL game in Week 17? Athlon's own Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster) and Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib), along with AthlonSports.com contributor Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer), predict the winners for every game this week:
NFL Week 17 Predictions
Minnesota at Detroit
New York Jets at New England
Atlanta at Tampa Bay
Las Vegas at Denver
Indianapolis at Jacksonville
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City
^Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia in Week 3 ended in a tie.