Getting into Week 17, there are a lot of eventualities that lead to groups securing division titles or playoff berths, and two groups can earn home-field benefit if issues go their method. Listed below are all of the playoff-clinching eventualities for this weekend:
- Clinch the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye within the AFC with a win and a Chiefs loss.
- Clinch the AFC North with a win and a Ravens loss or tie OR a tie and a Ravens loss.
- Clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Jets loss or tie OR a tie, a Jets loss and a Steelers loss or tie.
- Clinch the NFC East with a win or tie OR a Cowboys loss or tie.
- Clinch the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye within the NFC with a win OR a tie and a Vikings loss or tie OR a Cowboys loss or tie, a Vikings loss and a 49ers loss or tie.
- Clinch NFC South with a win.
- Clinch a playoff spot with a win, a Seahawks loss, a Lions loss and a Packers loss or tie.
Giants can clinch a playoff spot with …
- A win.
- A tie, a Seahawks loss or tie and a Commanders loss or tie.
- A tie, a Seahawks loss or tie and a Lions loss or tie.
- A tie, a Commanders loss or tie, a Lions loss or tie and a Packers loss or tie.
- A Seahawks loss and a Commanders loss.
- A Seahawks loss, a Lions loss and a Packers loss or tie.
- A Commanders loss, a Lions loss and a Packers loss.
So there are many massive video games to deal with this week, and Albert and Conor will take you thru Sunday’s slate, noting the very best matchups and the story traces they’ll be watching.
Video games of the week
Dolphins (8–7) at Patriots (7–8), 1 p.m. ET Sunday: An enormous sport for 2 beat-up groups, with Teddy Bridgewater set to try to go after a banged-up New England secondary that may be dipping into the follow squad for our bodies. The Patriots at the moment are 24–25 post-Brady, and a loss right here would nearly definitely imply lacking the playoffs for a second time in three years (you need to return to the primary three years of the Invoice Belichick period to search out such a stretch). As for the Dolphins, it’s been a gut-wrenching week and, much like their hosts on Sunday, they’d need assistance to make the playoffs after a loss on Sunday. — Albert Breer
Panthers (6–9) at Buccaneers (7–8), 1 p.m. ET Saturday: I’m getting some severe 2020 NFC East vibes for this conflict, along with the clearly intriguing subplot that Tom Brady might have already discovered his subsequent vacation spot (or is awaiting overtures from just a few completely different potential locations). Whereas I’m prone to be repeating myself right here, I nonetheless can’t imagine Brady arrived on the conclusion—sooner or later—that his momentary retirement may ultimately lead him to a spot the place he didn’t should play for the Buccaneers in 2022. The entire charade this yr has felt like a slowly deflating bicycle tire. The Panthers may full the season sweep and actually put the Brady dialog on excessive quantity. — Conor Orr
Vikings (12–3) at Packers (7–8), 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday: The Packers are immediately sizzling, driving a three-game win streak, and want just a bit assist to get within the dance if they will beat the Vikings this week and the Lions subsequent week (and both the Commanders lose as soon as or the Giants lose twice). And with a reliable receiver group beginning to coalesce round Aaron Rodgers, and rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs beginning to ship on their promise, Inexperienced Bay can be the No. 7 seed nobody (Minnesota included) would wish to see. The Vikings have faint hope for the highest seed (they’d have to win out and Philly would wish to lose out), so proper now, their wins and losses will most likely quantity to jockeying with the 49ers for the No. 2 seed (which, once more, won’t be optimum relying on who will get No. 7 seed).— A.B.
Steelers (7–8) at Ravens (10–5), 8:20 p.m. ET Sunday: Whereas the Lamar Jackson saga rolls on, the Ravens will do their finest to remain related within the divisional race (a win and a Bengals loss to the Payments would give them a 40% probability, in keeping with FiveThirtyEight) whereas making an attempt to get themselves proper offensively earlier than the playoffs. That is the proper sport for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who whereas eradicated from playoff competition, can flex on a momentarily inferior divisional rival and ship them limping into the postseason. — C.O.
Payments (12–3) at Bengals (11–4), 8:30 p.m. ET Monday: That is good soccer. Plain and easy. Whereas I’m undecided what number of extra big-time haymakers the Payments can take earlier than the playoffs after a season stuffed with battles, that is one more tune-up that helps us gauge the place the AFC playoffs are proper now. Each of those groups may simply find yourself representing the convention within the Tremendous Bowl. I additionally love that Joe Burrow is so younger that we’re nonetheless getting first matchups. Burrow has by no means confronted a Sean McDermott-Leslie Frazier protection. He had by no means confronted a Invoice Belichick protection till final week. It’s value watching, as both protection is sort of able to find one thing in his sport different groups can use within the postseason in opposition to him. — C.O.
Fantasy daring prediction of the week
Jared Goff might be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this week. Goff won’t be the fantasy championship hero we requested for this season, however he might be the fantasy hero we get. He’s been super at dwelling, averaging greater than 21 fantasy factors a sport this season. Goff ought to thrive in opposition to the Bears, who’ve allowed almost 24 fantasy factors on common to opposing quarterbacks. I’d be beginning Goff over “massive names” corresponding to Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Justin Herbert. — Michael Fabiano
• Fabiano’s Week 17 Begin ’Em, Sit ’Em: QB | RB | WR | TE | Okay/DST
What’s your one massive prediction for Week 17?
Orr: Justin Fields completely goes off in opposition to the Lions. It was his final battle with Detroit that led us to imagine that Fields is each an ascending star and a quarterback who, with the fitting offseason, might be elite. The Lions dared him to throw to win that sport. Fields had a tough time regardless of carrying the Bears to that time. This week, after giving his offensive linemen Weber grills, I feel Fields places up 300-plus by way of the air and one other 75-plus on the bottom.
Breer: Jaylen Waddle goes off in a Miami win. It’s arduous to belief the Patriots proper now, and I’d should suppose they’ll carry scars from the best way they misplaced to the Raiders and Bengals. That mentioned, I do belief Belichick to give you plan for Tyreek Hill. The issue is, along with his secondary a M*A*S*H unit, that’ll solely make it that a lot tougher to account for the explosive, dynamic Waddle, who I’ll put down for 150 scrimmage yards on Sunday.
Which crew most wants a win in Week 17?
Breer: The Jets. They’re touring throughout the nation. They’re taking part in their previous pal Geno Smith. And the nice vibes that permeated Florham Park within the fall have dissipated amid a four-game shedding streak. Playoffs or not, Robert Saleh may use some momentum going into 2023, and successful with Mike White the following two weeks would go a good distance towards constructing that—it’d even be simpler for the franchise to reckon with the problems of the previous month if they will merely be pinned to the second-year struggles of a younger quarterback.
Orr: Brandon Staley and the Chargers. You possibly can’t lose momentum now, even when momentum is a figment of our creativeness. Final week’s win over the Colts was one in all two large velocity bumps en path to the playoffs. Now, a beneficiant however probably harmful matchup in opposition to the Rams looms. The Chargers are efficient offensively however not good by any stretch. They may use an ideal sport in opposition to a wonderful defensive coordinator corresponding to Raheem Morris.
Which quarterback has been worse this season: Russell Wilson or Zach Wilson?
Orr: All due respect to each of those gamers—we’ve all had our tough stretches in soccer or in life the place we aren’t at our greatest making an attempt one thing new—I might say Russell Wilson has had the tougher season due to what occurred this week. A primary-year head coach was fired. Lives had been turned the wrong way up. A variety of blame is being thrown round. With Zach, it sounds worse than it’s, proper? They took a shot, it didn’t work, and it doesn’t value that a lot to repair it exterior of a bruised ego.
Breer: It’s Russell Wilson. And, largely, as a result of so many narratives had been confirmed, and the concept now of Letting Russ Cook dinner (which all alongside presumed that Twitter knew multiple of three coaches in historical past to win titles at each the NFL and main school ranges) appears, effectively, comical. The reality, it appears, is that the Seahawks had been most likely appropriate in the best way they used him, and the best way they resisted giving him energy within the group. And also you’d suppose, or at the least hope, that might make Wilson himself recalibrate his ideas on numerous issues. Reality is, the gap between expectations and outcomes was a lot better within the case of Russ than it’s within the case of Zach, who’s merely one other younger QB going the incorrect method. Which is absolutely what’s related on this argument.
The very best transfer made by an NFL govt this yr?
Breer: It must be Seahawks GM John Schneider understanding when and methods to commerce Wilson—notably when you think about the truth that he was working throughout the constraints of the quarterback’s no-trade clause, which made this a negotiation with a single suitor. The Seahawks acquired three stable vets (tight finish Noah Fant, defensive finish Shelby Harris and quarterback Drew Lock), two first-round picks and two second-rounders within the deal (with a Day 3 choose swap as effectively). The primary of the first-rounders turned left sort out Charles Cross. The primary of the second-rounders turned edge rusher Boye Mafe. And the second of the first-rounder is shaping as much as land within the high 5, and probably change into Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr. So this one appears to be like like a franchise-changer for Seattle, and it occurred largely, once more, because of Schneider’s sense for timing.
Orr: Definitely in hindsight the transfer Schneider made to commerce Russell Wilson, proper? Now we’re listening to from flocks of people that mentioned they might by no means have traded for Wilson. I’m undecided what, precisely, the panorama was in the intervening time, but when Broncos GM George Paton was negotiating in opposition to himself, he definitely paid dearly.
If the Panthers beat the Buccaneers and Tom Brady and win the NFC South beneath Steve Wilks, ought to Wilks get the everlasting job in Carolina?
Orr: I feel he ought to have it already. There’s disadvantageous teaching conditions and there’s the hand dealt to Wilks in Carolina. Whereas he acquired to hold on to some gamers throughout the purge, shedding the mechanism [Christian McCaffrey] that was presupposed to make your offense work is a troublesome blow. So is battling that notion within the locker room. Wilks was completely hosed in Arizona and his perceived failures there don’t change the truth that he was as soon as a deservedly sizzling candidate and needs to be once more.
Breer: I feel he’s acquired a extremely good shot at it both method. Sure, you’ve got a brand new proprietor in David Tepper who’s itching to construct out his operation. However at this level, it’s actually arduous to disregard what’s taking place. Wilks has navigated a tough and awkward quarterback scenario, given the crew an offensive identification behind its highly effective run sport and maintained a rising younger protection. And he’s clearly received the locker room, within the form of scenario the place it’d have been simple to lose the gamers. Throw in his ties to the realm, sticking with Wilks makes numerous sense. Which is why Tepper’s actually contemplating it now.
What’s your New Yr’s decision?
Breer: It sounds corny, however it’s simply to be extra current in all the things I do, with work, with my household, with my pals, all of it. It’s simpler than ever to get pulled in one million completely different instructions or to stare at your cellphone once you shouldn’t. I’m gonna try to get higher with that. We most likely all ought to.
Orr: Be nicer to my editors. In all seriousness, utilizing our platform for good and to unfold positivity. The world can appear powerful on the market. Social media life can get fairly combative. However there’s a lot good and skill to uplift in all of us. See one thing you want right here? Shout it out. I’ll do the identical.
Steelers vs. Ravens (-2.5): An AFC North Division rivalry on primetime is a good way to shut out Sunday’s motion in Week 17. Baltimore is listed as 2.5-point favorites on SI Sportsbook and the purpose complete is about at a really low 34.5 factors. The Ravens already clinched a playoff spot within the AFC however sit a sport behind the Bengals for the AFC North crown. In the meantime, the Steelers are preventing for a wild-card berth because of 4 wins of their previous 5 video games. Coincidentally, that one loss got here in opposition to the Ravens in Week 14, with Baltimore successful 16–14. The Ravens have a pitiful against-the-spread report of 1-5-1 in Baltimore when listed as a favourite. Pittsburgh, then again, has been worthwhile for bettors on the highway, posting a 5–3 ATS report in away video games. Two acquainted foes with playoff motivations on the road ought to lead to a detailed sport (identical to in Week 14). Financial institution the factors with Pittsburgh and seize the two.5.
Orr: It’s so humorous that we’re nearly in the very same scenario with Brady now as we had been in 2019. We now have assumed that the slowdown of his offense is due partially to his age and are skeptical about his subsequent vacation spot. I used to be confirmed utterly, embarrassingly incorrect by his time in Tampa. Now? I’m pondering twice earlier than penning a Brady-to-New Orleans hit piece.
Breer: You want free company? Nicely, we’ll most likely be getting an early begin this yr. The Raiders should lower Derek Carr (or commerce him) earlier than 4 p.m. Feb. 15 (the third day of the waiver interval) to keep away from his $32.9 million base for 2023 and $7.5 million of his base for ’24 changing into totally assured. Which implies groups such because the Jets, Panthers, Commanders and Saints will most likely have some early homework to do.
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