Week 17 is here and the playoffs are on the line.
Of the 12 playoff spots, only two are still up for grabs as the champion of the woeful NFC South will be determined and four teams still have a shot to grab the final Wild Card spot in the AFC.
Beyond that, there are several games that will have an impact on seeding and even determine who gets next weekend off.
Here are the ten games with playoff implications ranked by importance:
1. Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons (4:25 pm, CBS) — As sad as it sounds, this is the only win-or-go-home game in week 17 as the winner of this game will win the NFC South with just seven wins and will host a playoff game next weekend setting up a repeat of the NFL’s nightmare playoff scenario. The loser gets an early start on their off-season golf game.
2. San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (1:00 pm, CBS) — Both of these teams are still alive for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC but only the Chargers control their own fate. If San Diego wins, they are in. If the Chiefs win, they will also need the Ravens and Texans to lose to get in.
3. Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (4:25 pm, Fox) — Both of these teams are in the playoffs but there is still a lot on the line. The winner not only wins the NFC North, but they also get a first-round bye and a week off to rest their wounded. The loser will have to play on the road next weekend.
4. Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8:30 pm, NBC) — Like the game above, the winner of this game wins the AFC North and the loser is a Wild Card team. However, only the Bengals have a shot at a first-round bye and even then they would also need the Broncos to lose. So most likely this game is just for the right to play at home next weekend.
5. Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens (1:00 pm, CBS) — The Ravens can still be the AFC Wild Card, but they need to win this game and hope the Chargers lose to the Chiefs.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (1:00 pm, CBS) — The Texans are also still alive if they win, but they also need both the Chargers and Ravens to lose.
7. St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks (4:25 pm, Fox) — The Seahawks are in the playoffs but still need a win or a Cardinals loss to clinch the NFC West. A win would also mean a first-round bye for the Seahawks and would probably also clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
8. Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (1 pm, CBS) — The Cardinals are in the playoffs. But if they can beat the 49ers and the Seahawks lose to the Rams, the Cards will win the NFC West and will earn a first-round bye. Otherwise, they will most likely have to travel cross-country to play a 7-win NFC South champion next week.
9. Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS) — A win here for the Broncos means they can take next week off.
10. Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (1:00 pm, Fox) — The Cowboys can still clinch a first-round bye but they need a win here and losses by both the Seahawks and Cardinals. Considering their injuries to key players, the Cowboys don’t have much incentive to play for a win here.
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