Plenty left to be decided on final Sunday

There’s just one Sunday left to play in the NFL’s regular season but still plenty left to be decided.

With 16 weeks of games in the books, just seven of the 14 playoff spots have been clinched. The top seed in the NFC is still unclaimed, two division titles are up for grabs and five of the six wild-card spots, including all three AFC wild-card spots.

All of that means that not only is this Sunday going to be as unpredictable as it is decisive, but there are a lot of different clinching scenarios for both the AFC and NFC.

Below, we break them all down.

AFC

Week 17 playoff scenarios
There are 5 games with AFC playoff seeding implications, which amounts to 32 possible combinations of results (excludes ties) pic.twitter.com/ZVzltqI4Pg

— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 30, 2020

CLINCHED

Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West division title and first-round bye
Buffalo Bills – AFC East division title
Pittsburgh Steelers – AFC North division title

WIN AND THEY’RE IN

BALTIMORE RAVENS (at Cincinnati)

Since their last loss way back on Dec. 2, the Ravens have been flying high.

Baltimore are now winners of four straight, are scoring 37 points a game over that span and are likely the team in the AFC no one wants to draw in the first round. The hot streak means the Ravens are in control of their own destiny on Sunday.

Baltimore clinches a playoff berth with:

• A win against Cincinnati

• Losses by Cleveland or Indianapolis

• A tie against Cincinnati and a loss by Miami or Tennessee

• A tie against Cincinnati and tie by Cleveland or Indianapolis

CLEVELAND BROWNS (vs. Pittsburgh)

Fresh off a tough loss to the Jets without a handful of players due to COVID-19 protocols, the Browns get another shot to end their 17-year playoff drought on Sunday with a win over division rival Pittsburgh, who will start backup Mason Rudolph at quarterback and may sit more key starters.

There are many scenarios that would see Cleveland get into the post-season, but a win or a Colts loss are the most straight forward.

Cleveland clinches playoff berth with:

• A win against Pittsburgh

• A loss by Indianapolis

• A Tennessee loss and a win or tie by Miami and win or tie by Baltimore

• A tie against Pittsburgh and a Baltimore win or tie

• A tie against Pittsburgh and a loss by Baltimore, Miami or Tennessee

• A tie against Pittsburgh and a tie by Indianapolis

• A tie against Pittsburgh and a tie by Tennessee and a win by Baltimore and win by Miami

MIAMI DOLPHINS (at Buffalo)

The Dolphins enter their final game of the season with a chance to win 11 games in a season for the first time since 2008, and if they do that they’ll be in the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

With a quarterback controversy seemingly bubbling to the surface, Miami is in need of a win as it heads to Buffalo to take on the Bills, who may or may not sit key starters with nothing but playoff seeding on the line.

Miami clinches playoff berth with:

• A win against Buffalo

• A loss by Baltimore, Cleveland or Indianapolis

• A tie against Buffalo and a tie by Baltimore, Cleveland or Indianapolis

• A tie against Buffalo and a loss by Tennessee

TENNESSEE TITANS (at Houston)

The AFC South is the only division in the conference that has yet to crown a champion, and the Titans can do that with a win at the Texans on Sunday or if the Colts lose to the woeful Jaguars – an outcome we’re deeming unlikely.

Should Tennessee lose to Houston and Indianapolis beats Jacksonville, the division title will be out of the question for the Titans but a playoff berth will not be.

Tennessee clinches AFC South division title with:

• A win against Houston

• A loss by Indianapolis

• A tie against Houston and a tie by Indianapolis

Tennessee clinches playoff berth with:

• A loss by Baltimore or Miami

• A tie against Houston and a loss by Cleveland

• A tie against Houston and a tie by Miami or Baltimore

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (vs. Jacksonville)

The Colts’ Week 16 loss to the Steelers was a massive gut punch – not only did Indy blow a 24-7 third-quarter lead but the loss meant the Colts no longer controlled their own playoff destiny.

Frank Reich’s team now needs a win on Sunday and a loss elsewhere to get in, meaning the Colts could win 11 games and miss the post-season.

Indianapolis clinches AFC South division title with:

• A win against Jacksonville and a Tennessee loss or tie

• A tie against Jacksonville and a Tennessee loss

Indianapolis clinches playoff berth with:

• A win against Jacksonville and a loss or tie by Baltimore, Cleveland or Miami

• A tie against Jacksonville and a loss by Baltimore, Cleveland or Miami

NFC

Week 17 playoff scenarios
There are 7 games with NFC playoff seeding implications, which amounts to 128 possible combinations of results (excludes ties)#NFL pic.twitter.com/juhJXxmpny

— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 30, 2020

CLINCHED

Green Bay Packers – NFC North division title
New Orleans Saints – NFC South division title
Seattle Seahawks – NFC West division title
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Playoff berth

WIN AND THEY’RE IN

ARIZONA CARDINALS (at L.A. Rams)

The most intriguing game of Week 17 could be Cardinals at Rams, which will see the winner advance to the post-season. An Arizona loss would eliminate them from post-season contention, while a Los Angeles loss would mean Green Bay would need to beat the Bears for the Rams to get in.

The Cardinals are a curious case: since starting the season 6-2, Arizona is 3-5 and the Kyler Murray-led offence has struggled at times, including scoring just 12 points last Saturday at home against the 49ers.

Unfortunately, this matchup will be defined by injuries. The Rams will be without starting quarterback Jared Goff while the Cardinals are “hopeful” Murray will play despite suffering a lower leg injury in Week 16.

Arizona clinches playoff berth with:

• A win against L.A.

• A tie against L.A. and a loss by Chicago

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Los Angeles clinches playoff berth with:

• A win or tie against Arizona

• A loss or tie by Chicago

CHICAGO BEARS (vs. Green Bay)

Despite a mid-season six-game losing streak, the Bears can get into the playoffs with a win over the Packers on Sunday.

Chicago has won three straight entering Week 17 action, having scored at least 33 points in each of the three victories. The wins, however, have come against pretty tame opposition so the Packers offer the Bears one of their stiffest tests of 2020 with everything on the line.

If the Bears can’t pull off the upset versus Green Bay, a Cardinals loss would also see Chicago get in.

Chicago clinches playoff berth with:

• A win against Green Bay

• A loss by Arizona

• A tie against Green Bay and a tie by Arizona

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (at Philadelphia)

For Washington, the scenario is simple: win Sunday night’s game against the Eagles in Philadelphia and the Football Team are NFC East champions.

Winning, however, might not be so simple — especially if Alex Smith can’t play. Washington is 4-1 when Smith starts but just 2-8 with other QBs under centre. Head coach Ron Rivera said earlier this week that he’s “optimistic” Smith will start on Sunday Night Football after missing the last two games due to injury.

If Smith can’t play, Taylor Heinicke will go against the Eagles following the release of Dwayne Haskins on Monday.

Washington clinches NFC East division title with:

• A win against Philadelphia

• A tie against Philadelphia and a loss or tie by Dallas

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DALLAS COWBOYS (at N.Y. Giants)

If Washington loses to Philadelphia, the winner of Cowboys at Giants – which will be played earlier in the day – will be the NFC East champion.

These are two teams in very different form entering Week 17. The Cowboys have won three straight and are averaging 36 points per game over that stretch, while the Giants have lost three in a row and have combined for just 26 points in those games.

Dallas clinches NFC East division title with:

• A win against N.Y. and a loss or tie by Washington

• A tie against N.Y. and a loss by Washington

NEW YORK GIANTS

New York clinches NFC East division title with:

• A win against Dallas and a loss by Washington

CLINCHED BUT HAVE MORE TO GAIN

GREEN BAY PACKERS (at Chicago)

The Packers are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and can clinch it with a win over the Bears.

If Green Bay doesn’t beat Chicago, a Seahawks loss to the 49ers would also give the Packers the top seed.

Green Bay clinches the first-round bye with:

• A win or tie against Chicago

• A loss or tie by Seattle

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (at Carolina)

If the Packers fall to Chicago, the No. 1 seed is the Saints’ to lose.

A win at Carolina plus a Seahawks win over the 49ers and a Green Bay loss would see New Orleans scoop up the top seed in the NFC.

New Orleans clinches the first-round bye with:

• A win against Carolina and a loss by Green Bay and a win by Seattle

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (at San Francisco)

And finally, the Seahawks have an outside chance at the NFC’s top seed and the first-round bye that comes with it.

A Seattle win at San Francisco plus losses by both Green Bay and New Orleans would catapult the Seahawks to the top of the conference’s standings.

Seattle clinches the first-round bye with:

• A win against San Francisco and a loss by Green Bay and a loss or tie by New Orleans