Successful handicapping of the Week 17 NFL card requires understanding what is at stake for the teams fighting for playoff positioning.
In the AFC, eight teams remain alive for the seven playoff spots.
Kansas City is locked as the top seed. They will host their AFC playoff games. They also get the only bye in the wildcard round of the AFC playoffs.
Buffalo clinches the second seed with a victory over Miami. They also inherit the second seed with a Pittsburgh loss to Cleveland.
Pittsburgh has clinched the third seed. They can overtake the Bills for the second seed with a win along with Buffalo losing to the Dolphins.
The winner of the AFC South slides into the fourth seed. Tennessee wins the division with a victory at Houston. The Titans also win the AFC South if Indianapolis loses to Jacksonville. Even if they lose to the Texans, Tennessee makes the playoffs with either a Baltimore or Miami loss.
Miami makes the playoffs as a wildcard with a win over Buffalo. The Dolphins also make the playoffs with a loss by either Baltimore, Cleveland, or Indianapolis.
Baltimore makes the playoffs as a wildcard with a victory at Cincinnati. They also make the playoffs with either a loss by the Browns or a loss by the Colts.
Cleveland makes the playoffs as a wildcard with a win against the Steelers. The Browns also make the playoffs with a loss by the Colts. Cleveland also slips into the playoffs with a Titans loss along with a win or tie by the Dolphins and a win or a tie by the Ravens.
Indianapolis must beat Jacksonville to make the playoffs. The Colts can win the AFC South with a win combining with a Tennessee loss or tie. They can also win the division with a tie along with a Titans loss. Indianapolis makes the playoffs with a victory combined with either a loss/tie from Miami, Baltimore, or Cleveland.
Green Bay has won the NFC North which ensures them no worse than the third seed. They clinch the top seed in the NFC with a first-round bye and home-field advantage with a win or tie against Chicago or the Seahawks losing or tying with the 49ers at San Francisco.
New Orleans has clinched the NFC South. They can earn the top seed with a win at Carolina along with a Packers’ loss and a Seattle victory.
Seattle is the winner of the NFC West. They clinch the top seed with a win at San Francisco and a Green Bay loss along with a Saints’ loss or tie.
Tampa Bay has made the playoffs. The Buccaneers are the fifth seed if they defeat Atlanta.
The Los Angeles Rams clinch a wildcard spot with a win against Arizona. They also clinch a spot in the playoffs if Chicago loses or ties with the Packers.
Chicago makes the playoffs with a win against Green Bay. They also make the playoffs if Arizona loses. If both the Bears and Cardinals tie, Chicago makes the playoffs.
Arizona clinches a spot in the playoffs with a victory over the Rams. The Cardinals also make the playoffs with a tie combined with a Bears’ loss.
Washington wins the NFC East and inherits the fourth seed with a victory against Philadelphia or a tie combining with Dallas losing or tying against the Giants.
Dallas takes the NFC East title with a win over the Giants along with Washington losing or tying against the Eagles. The Cowboys also win the division with a tie combined with a Washington loss.
The Giants only win the NFC East if they defeat Dallas and Washington loses to Philadelphia.
Good luck - TDG.