The NFL playoff picture is still yet to be determined for the 2016 playoffs, and week 17 is going to decide the fate for quite a few teams. While the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Green Bay Packers currently sit at the top of the standings in their respective divisions, scenarios exist where these teams can lose their grip on the top spot in the final week.
To make it even more interesting, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is still up for grabs in both conferences, which is a huge advantage in advancing to the Super Bowl. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, NFL experts do not foresee any huge upsets this weekend, but there always seems to be a surprise result or two at the end of the season.
Unfortunately, fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and others do not have much to root for regarding playoff implications for their own teams, but it is still important to stay updated with the latest NFL playoff picture and scenarios. While the most recent NFL standings from ESPN show many divisions already clinched, the seeds and matchups can drastically change. Here are five important things to know for week 17 regarding the final NFL playoff picture that is taking shape.
1. The New England Patriots Clinch Home-field Advantage in the AFC with a Victory
Patriots can clinch home field in AFC playoffs with a win, which FPI projects as 73% likely. Our FPI projections: pic.twitter.com/wzFiXwZMPc— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 2, 2016
While the Patriots have had some uncharacteristic losses recently, they can still lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the AFC with a win. For a team that has had numerous injuries to some of their top playmakers, including Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, they are still in a strong position going into the playoffs. While Edelman and Amendola are still recovering, they both should be healthy for the divisional round of the playoffs.
2. The New York Jets Make the Playoffs with a Victory
While 10 wins in a season is usually enough to clinch a playoff berth, the New York Jets aren’t quite in yet. The good news is that their fate is in their own hands, and a win against the Buffalo Bills in week 17 will guarantee them a playoff spot. Even if they lose, they can still make the playoffs if the Pittsburgh Steelers lose. On the other hand, the playoff picture is more complicated for the Steelers, as they need to win and have the Jets lose.
3. The Carolina Panthers Clinch Home-field Advantage in the NFC with a Victory
As surprising as it sounds, the formally undefeated, 14-1 Carolina Panthers have not yet locked up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC. While stranger upsets have happened in the past, all the Panthers have to do is defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the NFC playoffs will go through Carolina.
4. The Winner of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings Game Wins the NFC North
While both teams have already clinched playoff berths, the NFC North is still at stake for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. There is always a chance for wild-card teams in the playoffs, but locking up a home game in the opening round of the playoffs has proved to be vital.
5. The Denver Broncos Clinch the AFC West with a Victory
A win Sunday vs the Chargers would make Brock Osweiler the 1st QB not named "Peyton" to clinch the AFC West since... pic.twitter.com/b4EuX13YwI— SportsNation (@SportsNation) December 29, 2015
For a team that lost Peyton Manning earlier in the season, the Denver Broncos have a golden opportunity to clinch the AFC West this week with a victory against the San Diego Chargers. The Kansas City Chiefs can clinch the AFC West with a victory and a Broncos loss, so they are also very much alive.
While those are a few of the more important scenarios, Bleacher Report put together a complete NFL playoff picture with additional tiebreakers and odds for each team.
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