Well, we did it.
So now with just one game remaining in the 2017 regular season, here’s how the playoff brackets are shaping up.
Same top four from last week, but the fight for the final two has spots intensified.
1.) New England Patriots (12-3)*
* - New England has clinched the AFC East and a first-round bye
Yeah, the narrative last week was that the Pats continued to benefit from some very dicey calls from the refs. After this week? Yeah...
2.) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)*
* - Pittsburgh has clinched the AFC North and a first-round bye
Is a Patriots-Steelers AFC Championship a foregone conclusion? I’m not writing anyone off per se, but it just feels necessary for closure this year.
3.) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5)*
* - Jacksonville has clinched the AFC South
The Rams’ win over the Titans clinched the AFC South for the Jags before their loss to the streaking San Francisco 49ers. The real question is if QB Blake Bortles withers under the bright lights of the playoffs. Cause he sure as hell could.
4.) Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)*
* - KC has clinched the AFC West
Weird season for KC, but they got the job done ultimately. If nothing else, they’ll make for an interesting playoff matchup regardless of who they host.
5.) Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
The Ravens’ Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals has been moved to the late group along with all the other playoff-deciding games. They’re sitting pretty right now though, and with their destiny in their own hands they have nothing to complain about.
6.) Tennessee Titans (8-7)
The Titans currently sit atop the 8-win teams. The problem? They face the Jaguars in Week 17.
In the hunt
7.) Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
They need help from Tennessee ahead of them, but they’ll have the Oakland Raiders at home in a must-win.
8.) Buffalo Bills (8-7)
The Bills desperately needed to beat the Pats on Sunday. Their best chance comes via a Baltimore loss, but they obviously need to take care of business against the Miami Dolphins and hope favor breaks their way elsewhere.
1.) Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)*
* - Philadelphia has clinched the NFC East, a first-round bye and home field throughout the NFC playoffs
The Eagles are locked in all the way through at home, but it’s all about QB Nick Foles.
2.) Minnesota Vikings (12-3)*
* - Minnesota has clinched the NFC North
While Minnesota owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, they don’t over the Carolina Panthers.
3.) Los Angeles Rams (11-4)*
* - LA has clinched the NFC West
The Rams can’t get the #2 seed and a bye, but they can lock up the #3 seed by beating the 49ers in Week 17. The question is if it’s worth as much to fight for with the starters or if they deserve a rest with the playoffs looming.
4.) New Orleans Saints (11-4)*
* - New Orleans has clinched a playoff spot
Should the Saints hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17 and win the NFC South crown, I’m not sure anyone will want to head to the Superdome in the postseason...
5.) Carolina Panthers (11-4)*
* - Carolina has clinched a playoff spot
6.) Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
The game between the Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17 is a huge won for those two teams as well as the team outside the picture looking in...
In the hunt
7.) Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
The Seahawks beat the Cowboys to eliminate them from contention. Now, they need Carolina to beat Atlanta just to have a chance. And they’ll have to deal with an Arizona Cardinals team that would love to keep an NFC West rival out of the playoffs.
We’ve just about sealed things up. We are at the point where teams like the Rams among others have to decide how much Week 17 and seeding matters and how important it is just to keep some guys on the sideline to avoid injury. Some are still playing for their playoff lives.
One more Sunday...