The final week of the NFL regular season
The GIST: Seventeen weeks and countless controversial calls later, it all comes down to this: the NFL’s five remaining playoff spots (plus all-important seeding) will be decided over the next two days of final regular-season action. No pressure.
- As a quick refresher, 14 of the league’s 32 teams — seven from the American Football Conference (AFC) and seven from the National Football Conference (NFC) — make the postseason, with four AFC spots already locked in and five accounted for in the NFC.
Three-way tie atop the AFC South: The Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, and Houston Texans boast identical 9-7 records, making the division crown (and the playoff berth that comes with it) anyone’s for the taking. The Jags hold the tiebreaker, so they’ll only need a dub over the Tennessee Titans, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, to nab it.
- But first things first: tomorrow’s 8:15 p.m. ET game pits the Texans against the Colts. Winner majorly boosts their playoff odds and could even take the division title should the Jags falter. This one’s can’t miss.
Lowly NFC South still seeking winner: Giddy on up because we have another three-way race, this one in the NFC South, where no team owns a record better than .500. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can claim the crown with a win over the Carolina Panthers, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, but the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons will be manifesting a Bucs loss as they square off against each other simultaneously.
Green Bay Packers control their destiny: No Aaron Rodgers, possibly no problem. The Pack could begin the sans-Rodgers era with a playoff appearance…if they top the Chicago Bears, Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. And if the Pack loses? Chaos ensues.
The game of the weekend: The NFL truly saved the best for last: Sunday’s 8:20 p.m. ET battle for the AFC East between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. The Fins have already clinched a postseason ticket, but the once–Super Bowl favorite Bills could miss the playoffs entirely with an L. Talk about down to the wire.