The cookies have been eaten, the lights are coming down, and the music is off the radio. Christmas has come and gone, but it didn’t depart without leaving a trail of broken hearts – the Broncos saw their slim playoff hopes disappear with a lose in Kansas City, the Ravens were eliminated by the outstretched arm of Antonio Brown, and Randy Bullock missing wide right ends all chances of the Titans seeing the postseason.

Despite the elimination of many teams and the fact most playoff spots are already locked up, there is still plenty to play for in Week 17, most notably for the Green Bay Packers. There are games with seeding on the line, teams fighting for playoffs berths, and the NFC North showdown that has been flexed to the Sunday Night game. With the playoffs right around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the key games this week.

New England vs. Miami, 1 p.m. ET

Both teams have locked up a playoff spot – the Dolphins being their first since the 2009 playoffs –  and the Patriots, well, it feels like they’re always in this thing. However, don’t expect Belicheck or Gase to be resting any players. The Patriots are still vying for the number one seed, and, though they have it right now, a loss in Miami and an Oakland win would bump the Raiders up to the number one spot and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Dolphins can move up to the fifth seed with a win and a Kansas City loss, but Adam Gase has more motivation to keep his starters in. Without Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins will look to Matt Moore to lead them through the postseason, and though he has played well in his two starts, he will need all the reps he can get, especially if they meet New England again down the road. Look for a hard-fought game between division rivals.

New York vs. Washington, 3:25 p.m. ET

With the AFC field virtually set, most eyes will be on the NFC. The Giants are locked into the fifth seed, but there is still one spot open, and Washington will be one of the teams pushing for that last wildcard spot. The recipe is simple: with a Lions loss to the Cowboys, the Redskins now control their own destiny. Win and they’re in, barring a Lions-Packers tie. This would put the Packers/Lions into the 4th seed and the Redskins into the 6th seed. A loss would knock Washington out of contention. After blowing a game in Landover against the Panthers in week 15, the Redskins will be primed and ready for a big game against a New York team that really doesn’t have much to play for.

Green Bay vs. Detroit, 8:30 p.m. ET

There’s a reason this game was flexed to the night slot. Easily the biggest game of the weekend, this one is for all the marbles. For the Lions, this would be their first division title since 1993, while Tampa Bay was still in the division, before Friends was on TV, and before the NFC North was even called the NFC North. For the Packers, well, quite frankly not many people expected them to even be in this position after the way this season started. But nonetheless, they have “run the table,” as Rodgers declared, and one more win would send them back to Lambeau for a home playoff game. Now, the news is not all grim for the loser of this matchup – if the Redskins lose earlier in the day to the Giants, the loser will clinch the second wildcard spot. Many expect the Packers to win this game, given their hot streak and the fact that the Lions have dropped their last two, but if Stafford can get going against the Packers porous secondary, this could quickly become a very high scoring game.

Playoff Picture after Week 16


  1. New England
  2. Oakland
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Houston
  5. Kansas City
  6. Miami


  1. Dallas
  2. Atlanta
  3. Seattle
  4. Green Bay
  5. New York
  6. Detroit

Seeding Scenarios for Week 17


New England

  1. Clinches home field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with NE win or tie
  2. Fall to 2nd seed with NE loss + OAK win


  1. Clinches home field advantage throughout with OAK win + NE loss
  2. Clinches division title and a first-round bye with OAK win or tie AND KC loss or tie
  3. Falls to the 5th seed with OAK loss + KC win

Kansas City

  1. Clinches a first-round bye with KC win + OAK loss
  2. Falls to the 6th seed with KC loss + MIA win


  1. Move to the 5th seed with MIA win + KC loss

Pittsburgh and Houston are locked into the third and fourth seeds, respectively.



  1. Clinches a first-round bye:
    1. With ATL win
    2. ATL tie + SEA loss or tie
    3. SEA loss + DET loss or tie
    4. SEA tie + DET loss
  2. Falls to the 3rd seed with ATL loss + SEA win
  3. Falls to the 4th seed with ATL loss + SEA win + DET win


  1. Clinches a first-round bye:
    1. SEA win + ATL loss or tie
    2. SEA tie + ATL loss + GB/DET tie
  2. Falls to the 4th seed with SEA loss


  1. Clinches division title:
    1. DET win
  2. Clinches a first-round bye:
    1. DET win + SEA loss or tie + ATL loss
  3. Clinches a playoff berth:
    1. DET tie
    2. WAS loss or tie
  4. Earns the 3rd seed with win + SEA loss
  5. Eliminated from playoff contention with DET loss + WAS win

Green Bay

  1. Clinches division title:
    1. GB win or tie
  2. Clinches a playoff berth:
    1. WAS loss
    2. WAS tie + TB win + GB clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over TB
  3. Earn 3rd seed with win + SEA loss
  4. Eliminated from playoff contention with loss + Washington win


  1. Clinches playoff berth:
    1. WAS win + GB-DET game does not end in a tie
    2. WAS tie + GB loss + TB loss or tie
  2. Eliminated from playoff contention with WAS loss

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay needs an after-Christmas miracle to make the playoffs. The odds of the Buccaneers making the postseason are 60,000-1. You have a better chance of bowling a 300, finding a four leaf clover on your first try, or being injured by a firework. They would need to win, and have Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, Tennessee and Indianapolis all win as well. None of these games are impossible; however, there’s one more game to add to the list. Washington and New York must tie. Highly, highly unlikely. But after the way this season has gone, anything can happen…

Dallas and New York Giants are locked into the first and fifth seeds, respectively.