Home NFL NFL Playoff Picture Entering Week 17: Potential Scenarios, Games to Watch – Sports Illustrated

NFL Playoff Picture Entering Week 17: Potential Scenarios, Games to Watch – Sports Illustrated

10 min read

The final week of the NFL’s regular season is here, and there are still a few things to be settled before the playoffs start.

The Steelers (8–7), Raiders (7–8) and Cowboys (7–8) are still in the hunt for a postseason spot. Teams like the Packers and Saints are also fighting for a shot at a bye week in the divisional round, while the 49ers and Seahawks will meet in a primetime showdown for the NFC West title.


Lions vs. Packers (1 p.m. ET): Green Bay won the NFC North title with a win over the Vikings on Monday and can clinch a bye week by beating the Lions. If the 49ers lose to the Seahawks, the Packers will move up to the No. 1 seed. If the Saints surprisingly fall to the Panthers, Green Bay would clinch a bye without even defeating the Lions.

Saints vs. Panthers (1 p.m. ET): If the Packers and 49ers both win on Sunday, the Saints will end up as the No. 3 seed. The Saints can earn a bye if the Seahawks beat the 49ers.

Redskins vs. Cowboys (1 p.m. ET): Dallas needs to beat the Redskins and needs its division rivals Eagles to lose to the Giants in order to reach the playoffs. If the Eagles lose and the Cowboys win, Dallas would win the tiebreaker by going 5–1 in division games and Philadelphia going 4–2.

Eagles vs. Giants (4:25 p.m. ET): If the Eagles beat or tie the Giants, they will clinch the NFC East no matter the outcome of Dallas’ game. If Philadelphia loses to New York but the Cowboys lose to or tie Washington, the Eagles would clinch the division.

Raiders vs. Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET): After a win over the Chargers in Week 16, the Raiders are still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the AFC. With a win on Sunday, combined with the Colts beating the Jaguars, a Texans win over the Titans and the Ravens beating the Steelers, Oakland could become the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

Steelers vs. Ravens (4:25 p.m. ET): Pittsburgh will face the Ravens on Sunday and can clinch the AFC No. 6 seed if they defeat Baltimore and the Titans lose to the Texans. If the Steelers lose, there are still a few scenarios that will allow them to get in. Those include if the Titans fall to the Texans, the Colts defeat the Jaguars, and the Raiders lose to or tie the Broncos.

49ers vs. Seahawks (8:20 p.m. ET): San Francisco and Seattle will battle for the NFC West title on Sunday night. If the 49ers win, they will claim the top NFC seed home-field advantage in the divisional round. The Seahawks would need a win over the Niners and Saints and Packers losses to earn the No. 1 seed.

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NFC SEED BREAKDOWN: Who is eligible for the No. 1 seed?

49ers: If the Niners beat the Seahawks, they’ll win their division and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If they lose, they’ll be a wild card with the No. 5 seed.

Packers: If the Packers beat the Lions and the 49ers lose, Green Bay will get the No. 1 NFC seed. If San Francisco wins, it will be No. 1 since it has a head-to-head tiebreak over the Packers.

Saints: New Orleans can earn the No. 1 seed if it beats the Panthers, the Seahawks beat the 49ers and the Packers lose to the Lions.

Seahawks: Seattle needs a win over the Niners, a Packers loss and a Saints loss to lock in the top seed.

Which Teams Can Clinch a First-Round Bye?

Chiefs: If the Chiefs beat the Chargers on Sunday and the Patriots lose to the Dolphins, Kansas City will have a bye week.

Patriots: A win or tie over the Dolphins, as well as a Chiefs loss or tie to the Chargers, would secure a bye.

Packers: Green Bay can clinch a bye week with a win over the Lions or a Saints loss to the Panthers. The Packers can also get a bye if they tie, combined with either a 49ers loss or Saints tie.

Saints: New Orleans will clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Panthers and a Packers loss. The Saints can also get a bye with a win and a Niners’ loss or tie, Packers loss, a Saints tie or a 49ers loss. New Orleans would also have a bye with a San Francisco loss and Green Bay win or tie.

49ers: A win over the Seahawks will earn the Niners a bye week. If San Francisco ties and Green Bay loses or ties, the 49ers will earn a bye. Or, if the team ties the Seahawks and New Orleans loses or ties, the Niners will have a bye. 

Seahawks: Seattle will have a first-round bye with a win over the 49ers and a Packers loss.


* – indicates clinched home-field advantage in playoffs; x – indicates clinched playoff berth; y – indicates clinched division title; z – indicates clinched first-round bye

Wild Card Round (Jan. 4-5): 


Titans (No. 6 seed) vs. Chiefs (No. 3 seed, xy)

Bill (No. 5 seed, x) vs. Texans (No. 4 seed, xy)


Vikings (No. 6 seed, x) vs. Saints (No. 3 seed, xy)

Seahawks (No. 5 seed, x) vs. Eagles (No. 4 seed)

Divisional Round (Jan. 11-12):


Lowest winning seed from AFC wild card round vs. Ravens (No. 1 seed, xyz*)

Highest winning seed from AFC wild card round vs. Patriots (No. 2 seed, xy)


Lowest winning seed from NFC wild card round vs. 49ers (No. 1 seed, x)

Highest winning seed from NFC wild card round vs. Packers (No. 2 seed, xy)

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