One week left in the NFL season and then it’s time for playoffs, and the only thing we know right now is that the Green Bay Packers will have home field advantage leading up through the NFC Championship game, should they make it that far. Everything else, to some extent, is up for grabs.

Instead of making your head spin trying to figure everything out, we’re breaking it down for you.


The Top Seed

At 12-3, the New England Patriots have already locked up the AFC East, leaving the Jets hoping for a Wild Card spot. Despite the best record in their conference, the Patriots don’t have the #1 seed locked down just yet. If they are able to defeat the visiting Buffalo Bills on Sunday, they won’t have to worry about travelling again until it’s Super Bowl time… or golf season.

Both the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the playoffs with records of 11-4, leaving them each with the potential to win the AFC North which would give them a home playoff game, and there’s still the potential for both of them to finish with the same record as New England (provided the Bills provide for the upset).

Baltimore visits Cincinnati on Sunday, with the Bengals still slated for a Wild Card spot, so that will be a hotly contested game.

Pittsburgh visits Cleveland, the only AFC North team not vying for a post-season bid.

The AFC West is still up for grabs, with Denver heading into its Week 17 game against Kansas City, bringing Kyle Orton back to Mile High Stadium for the first time since he was released by the Broncos earlier this season. If the Broncos can beat the Chiefs, they get the post season bid into the playoffs.  On the other hand, the Oakland Raiders are matched up with the visiting Chargers of San Diego, and if the Broncos lose to the Chiefs, the Raiders can stake their claim to the AFC West Division with a victory… and likely send Chargers coach Norv Turner packing.

The Texans have clinched the not-so-competitive AFC South with a record of 10-5. They will either host the Cincinnati Bengals or, if the Bengals can’t beat the Ravens and one of the following teams wins their week 17 match up, whomever comes through with the wild card bid:

The Tennessee Titans can still finish at 9-7, but they’re visiting Houston on Sunday, so they’ll hope the Texans are resting some of their banged-up players. Given the ties to the Oilers of old, these two teams have plenty of reason to be bitter rivals, and if the Texans can play spoiler to their divisional opponent’s playoff hopes, that could be a significant factor in heating things up between them. Likewise, if Tennessee can win the game and potentially knock out a key player or two from Houston’s line-up, that’ll make their Wild Card Game rematch all the more bitter.

The New York Jets also have the chance to supplant the Bengals as the Wild Card representative, and they’ll have a decent shot at it as they travel to South Beach to play the Dolphins on Sunday. If Rex Ryan and the Jets can’t get a win in Miami, they may as well stay down there for an extended vacation to start the post season, because their fans won’t want to see them again for a couple weeks.


Like we mentioned, the Packers can’t be caught for the top seed in the NFC, having amassed a record of 14-1.  The San Francisco 49ers aren’t too far behind, having already notched 12 wins themselves. That said, San Francisco hasn’t locked up a first-round bye yet, and if they can’t beat the Rams, that gives the Saints the opportunity to step up and potentially over-take them for the short vacation.

The 49ers certainly have the better odds, as they travel to St Louis to play a team which is in the running for the worst record in the NFL.  The Saints play host to the much improved Panthers.

For the NFC East, likely the most exciting game of the year will happen on Sunday Night Football. The winner of the Cowboys @ Giants game will win the NFC East and get a homefield playoff game next weekend. The loser gets to spend more time with their hobbies.

The Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions are fighting to stay out of the 6th seed in the NFC. If Detroit wins, they keep the 5th seed and will play the lowest seeded division winner, which is the winner of tonight’s Cowboys @ Giants game. It will be a tough task for the Lions, as they’re visiting Green Bay.

The road is a bit easier for Atlanta, as they’re hosting the 4-11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Were Atlanta to win, they would still need a loss by Detroit to avoid having to play the Saints or 49ers on the road to open the playoffs.