As N.F.L. groups put together for the newly added seventeenth regular-season sport this weekend, some are safely in the playoffs, some are out and a few are actually, actually out. Some are jockeying for postseason seeding. And most intriguingly, a handful of groups are dealing with the highest stakes of all: taking part in in win-or-go-home video games. Here are the stakes of this weekend’s video games for the groups nonetheless in the playoff combine.
N.F.C. Playoff Scenarios
Six of the seven playoff groups have been decided. But one divisional race and a wild-card spot are nonetheless up in the air.
The Packers (a league-best 13-3) have clinched the high seed in the convention, and the solely bye, behind one more nice season by Aaron Rodgers, 38. It’s their third straight season at 13-3 (though this yr they’ve another sport to play). In every of the final two seasons they misplaced in the convention championship sport.
The Super Bowl champion Buccaneers (12-4) and the Cowboys (11-5) have clinched their divisions — the N.F.C. South and East, respectively — though they gained’t get a bye. At age 44, Tom Brady appears to steer the league in nearly the whole lot, together with yards, completions and touchdowns.
The veteran-laden Rams (12-4) are in the driver’s seat to win the N.F.C. West. Los Angeles will take the prize with a win towards the 49ers at dwelling or a loss by the Cardinals (11-5) to the Seahawks. But ought to the Rams lose and the Cardinals win, Arizona would get the crown based mostly on a greater divisional document. Whichever group doesn’t win has nonetheless clinched one in every of the three wild-card spots. The Cardinals might be returning to the playoffs after a five-season absence.
2021 N.F.L. Season News and Analysis
The Eagles (9-7) have additionally clinched a wild-card spot, bouncing again after a 4-11-1 season.
The third and ultimate wild-card spot comes right down to the 49ers (9-7) and the Saints (8-8), and the Saints have a stable likelihood to sneak in. If the Saints beat the already-eliminated Falcons and the 49ers lose at the Rams, then New Orleans will seize the spot with a greater convention document. With the Rams nonetheless trying to clinch the division, it appears seemingly they may play their starters and take the sport critically, which could possibly be dangerous information for the Niners.
Every different N.F.C. group is out.
A.F.C. Playoff Scenarios
The scenario is a bit messier on this convention, with the No. 1 seed nonetheless undetermined and several other groups holding long-shot playoff hopes.
The Titans and the Chiefs are each 11-5, however the Titans are in pole place for the high seed and the lone bye. The Titans maintain the tiebreaker after beating Kansas City head-to-head, 27-3, in Tennessee in October. Kansas City may nonetheless seize the No. 1 seed and the bye by successful at Denver on Saturday if the Titans blow their sport at the Texans the subsequent day. Tennessee and Kansas City are assured of successful the A.F.C. South and West, respectively, it doesn’t matter what occurs.
The Bengals (10-6) have clinched the A.F.C. North. Cincinnati does have a really, very long-shot likelihood for the bye: They must beat the Browns and have each Kansas City and Tennessee lose to sub- .500 opponents. Even if all that occurred, the Bengals would additionally want both the Bills to beat the Jets (a minimum of that one is probably going), or the Dolphins to beat the Patriots. The New York Times’s Playoff Simulator offers them a 4 % likelihood.
Both the Bills and the Patriots will make the playoffs, and both may nonetheless win the A.F.C. East division. The Bills (10-6) are heavy favorites, although. To take the title, they need to solely beat the Jets at dwelling, as 17-point favorites. The Patriots (additionally 10-6, however with a worse divisional document) should beat the Dolphins at Miami and have the Bills in some way lose.
That leaves two extra wild-card spots.
The Sunday night time sport between two 9-7 groups, the Chargers and the Raiders, is a pure playoff qualifier; the successful group is in. The Raiders have a backdoor means in as properly, if each the (*18*) and the Colts lose. The Chargers don’t have that possibility.
The Colts (9-7) are in a superb place, needing only a win over the hapless Jaguars to get into the playoffs as a wild card.
The (*18*) (8-7-1) should beat the Ravens on the highway and have the Colts in some way lose to the Jaguars.
And Ravens followers shouldn’t hand over hope. Though simply 8-8, the group may sneak into the playoffs with an unlikely parlay of a win over the (*18*) plus losses by the Colts and the Chargers, and a win by the Patriots. So we’re saying there’s an opportunity!
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