Final three NFL playoff spots still up for grabs in Week 18
Five of the seven AFC playoff spots are secured, with five teams fighting for the final two conference tickets to the postseason in Week 18.
The Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers enter the final weekend of the debut 17-game regular season with a shot at the expanded playoffs. Seven teams in each conference will make this month’s postseason field in an NFL first.
Only one spot is open in the NFC with the Green Bay Packers locked into the No. 1 seed and lone first-round bye with a dominant victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.
Home-field advantage remains uncertain in the AFC, but the Tennessee Titans (11-5) clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a win at Houston (4-12), among other possibilities involving ties and losses by the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals.
Three teams — the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals — are in the NFC field with three certain division champs: the Packers, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Still alive for the seventh spot are the San Francisco 49ers (9-7, at Rams) and New Orleans Saints (8-8, at Atlanta).
The 49ers are in with a win, tie or Saints loss. New Orleans must win and pull for the Rams to beat the 49ers to sneak into the postseason.
If the Titans lose, the Bengals or Chiefs could steal the top seed in the AFC.
The Chiefs are the No. 1 in the conference with a win and Titans loss or tie. If the Chiefs tie, they’d still have a shot at the No. 1 seed if the Titans lose to the Texans.
Cincinnati (10-6) has a more complicated route to the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage, but the Bengals do have a chance. It would require losses by the Chiefs and Titans and a loss or tie by the New England Patriots in addition to a Bengals’ win.
New England (10-6) winning could throw the playoff picture for a loop. The Patriots would claim the No. 1 seed with a win, combined with losses from the Bills, Chiefs and Titans.
Sunday night in Las Vegas will determine the outlook of wild-card weekend. The Chargers (9-7) visit the Raiders (9-7) with the winner getting a playoff ticket.
The Colts (9-7) need to win or tie at the Jacksonville Jaguars to get in the easy way after losing to the Raiders last week. Because of tiered tiebreakers, the Colts could sneak in with a Chargers’ loss plus a tie in the Baltimore Ravens-Steelers game, or a Miami Dolphins win combined by losses by the Chargers and Steelers.
The Steelers (8-7-1) could earn a playoff spot if they win, the Colts lose, and the game between the Raiders and Chargers doesn’t end in a tie.
–Field Level Media