Thursday, March 23, 2023

NFL playoff photo: AFC and NFC ranking update for week 17

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Week 17 has arrived, marking the end of the 2020 NFL regular season. For some teams, a win means while trying to lock in the standings, division titles or places to advance to the playoffs, while ‘a loss could send them home sooner than expected.

The playoff field expanded by one team each in the AFC and NFC to a total of 14, which made the end of season results more interesting. Based on the current leaderboard, here’s an updated look at what each conference tournament would look like if the playoffs started now:

WEEK 17: Sporting News’ latest NFL power rankings

NFL Ranking for Week 17

(Getty Images)

AFC playoff photo

Who would be in it?

(off hook) 1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1), champions, AFC West. The Chiefs didn’t get many style points for their victory over the Falcons in Week 16, but the victory still secured the seed and the only pass in the first round of the playoffs in the AFC. They are well placed as favorites to repeat themselves as Super Bowl champions. They will be resting key players such as quarterback Patrick Mahomes for Sunday’s insignificant home final. Remaining calendar: against LAC

2. Buffalo Bills (12-3), champions, AFC Est. The Bills kept pace with the Steelers in Week 16 and occupy that position with a head-to-head tiebreaker in Week 17. They are currently planning to play their key players to ensure they get the No.2 seed, which would mean two critical home games in the AFC playoffs before potentially facing the Chiefs in the AFC title game. Remaining calendar: against MIA

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3), champions, AFC North. The Steelers needed this big win over the Colts to lock in their divisional championship and end a three-game losing streak after an 11-0 start. They take a different approach from the Bills, with the No.2 having no time off, as they rest key players like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the final. Remaining calendar: at CLE

4. Tennessee Titans (10-5), first place, AFC South. The Titans still hold the division record against the Colts while having the same overall record following the loss of both teams in Week 16 – Tennessee at Green Bay and Indianapolis in Pittsburgh. With a win in Week 17, the Titans would retain this seed as champions of the South. With a loss, the Titans can still win the division with a loss to the Colts. But if the Titans lose and the Colts win, the Titans would need a loss to the Ravens or the Dolphins to secure at least a prime spot for a second straight season. Remaining calendar: to HOU

5. Miami Dolphins (10-5), second place, AFC Est. The Dolphins jumped here in Week 16 thanks to the loss of the Browns and possession of the three-way tiebreaker against the Ravens and Browns. They would make the playoffs like a wild card with a win over the Bills. If the Dolphins lose to the Bills, they would need the Ravens, Browns or Colts to lose to get in. Remaining calendar: at BUF

6. Baltimore Ravens (10-5), second place, AFC North. The Ravens also skipped the Browns in Week 16, due to their head-to-head series sweep. The Ravens would be in the playoffs again, this time as a wild card, with a win over the Bengals. If the Ravens lose, they would need the Browns or Colts to lose to get in. Remaining calendar: at CIN

7. Cleveland Browns (10-5), third place, AFC North. The Browns could have landed a playoff berth if they’d beaten the Jets in Week 16. Instead, they’re in a tough position against the Steelers at home rest in Week 17. The Browns are would qualify for the playoffs and end their drought. with a victory. If the Browns lose, they can still succeed a) if the Colts lose or b) the Titans lose and the Dolphins and Ravens win. Remaining calendar: against PIT

Who can do it?

8. Colts (10-5), second place, AFC South

The Colts are out of control in Week 17 and need help winning the South or gaining a wildcard spot. The Colts need to beat the Jaguars and hope the Titans, Dolphins, Ravens or Browns lose to advance to the playoffs.

Who is outside

9. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)
10. New England Patriots (6-9)
11. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)
12. Denver Broncos (5-10)
13. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)
14. Houston Texans (4-11)
15. New York Jets (2-13)
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)

The Patriots have grown too inconsistent to return to the wildcard race, and the Week 15 loss to the Dolphins officially knocked them out. The Broncos and Texans have been doing better than expected lately, but both teams are thinking more about next year. The Chargers can think of what could have been with all of their tight losses, despite two recent wins. The Bengals finished when Joe Burrow fell in Week 11. The Jaguars and Jets ended their battle for the No. 1 pick in the draft; the Jags clinched it in Week 16 with a loss to the Bears and the Jets victory over the Browns.

MORE: The NFL Extended Playoffs, Explained

NFC playoff image

(Getty Images)

Who would be in it?

1. Green Bay Packers (12-3), champions, NFC North. The Packers still have work to do to gain an edge on the field in the NFC playoffs and get that one pass in the first round. If the Packers win, they would be No. 1 no matter what the Saints and Seahawks do. If they lose, they would need the Seahawks to lose to get to No.1 or the Packers risk the possibility of falling to No.3. Remaining calendar: at CHI

2. New Orleans Saints (11-4), champions, NFC South. The Saints have a tough road to No.1 because they lost to the Packers in Week 3 and would lose the tiebreaker head to head. The Saints need to beat the Panthers and hope the Packers win and the Seahawks create a three-way tie, where they would have the tiebreaker (based on the conference record) for the No.1. Remaining calendar: to CAR

3. Seattle Seahawks (11-4), champions, NFC West. The Seahawks won the division by beating the Rams at home in Week 16. The Seahawks need to beat the 49ers in Week 17 to have a shot at placing No.1. The Seahawks, with a win, would also need of losses from the Packers and the Saints. There’s a good chance they’ll stay there with long shots to get to the top or second seed. Remaining calendar: to SF

4. Washington Football Team (6-9), First Place, NFC Est. Washington doesn’t have much of a mystery about what it needs to do to win the division. The football team are NFC East champions and No.4 with a win over the Eagles. WFT came out with one loss, with the Cowboys or Giants winning the previous game, stealing the title. Remaining calendar: at PHI

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5) second place, NFC South. The Buccaneers nabbed a playoff berth, but they want to keep that seed to face a much weaker NFC East opponent in the first round against one of the top three teams in the NFC. They lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Rams, so they would need a win over the Falcons to lock in the No.5. Remaining calendar: against. ATL

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-6), second place, NFC West. The Rams will start John Wolford at quarterback with a shorthanded offense around him in their most critical game. After losing NFC West, they try to grab onto a wildcard bunk. If the Rams don’t beat the Cardinals to stay, they’ll need the Bears to lose to the Packers. They hold the tiebreaker face to face on the bears. Remaining calendar: against ARI

7. Chicago Bears (8-7), second place, NFC North. The Bears would retain this position and enter as a wildcard behind the Packers by beating the Packers. If the Bears lose to the Packers, they would need the Cardinals to lose to the Rams to advance to the playoffs. Remaining calendar: against GB

Who can do it?

8. Arizona Cardinals (8-7), third place, NFC West

Cardinals also have control of a wildcard bunk, like bears. They would either participate in a victory against the Rams, or they would return home. There is no scenario where losing the Bears takes the Cardinals to the playoffs.

9. Dallas Cowboys (6-9), second place, NFC East
12. New York Giants (5-10), third place, NFC East

For either of those NFC East teams to get in, Washington would have to lose. Then whoever wins their head-to-head earlier in the day would advance to the playoffs.

Who is outside?

10. Minnesota Vikings (6-9)
11. San Francisco 49ers (6-9)
13. Carolina Panthers (5-10)
14. Detroit Lions (5-10)
15. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)
16. Atlanta Falcons (4-11)

The Eagles and Vikings joined this group in Week 16. The Lions and Falcons are here after sacking their coaches earlier in the season. The 49ers joined them with back-to-back home losses to the Bills and Washington. The Panthers’ Week 15 loss in rebuilding to Green Bay was their eighth one-possession loss this season. They followed that up with a major possession win in Washington.


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