Week 16, the penultimate chapter in the 2017 NFL regular season, is in the books — and where a few things became more clear, the playoff picture is far from set. While most teams have a good idea if they’re going to keep playing after next Sunday or start their vacations, one team could finish anywhere from 2nd to 5th in the division, which is the difference between having to play on Wild Card weekend or getting a bye-week and a guaranteed home game in the divisional round. Just about everyone has a reason to play as hard as they can on the final weekend of the season.
The Philadelphia Eagles have clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs even after losing their start quarterback for the season. Where this team was once a juggernaut, they definitely seem mortal though they have the best record in the NFL at 13-2 with one week to go. From there it gets a bit crazier. The Minnesota Vikings are currently in the second spot and the Los Angeles Rams in third, both having clinched their respective divisions. In the fourth spot is the New Orleans Saints and fifth are the Carolina Panthers. The two teams come from the same division, the NFC South, and have the same record though the Saints have the tie breaker and currently lead their division because of it. The final slot is currently held by the Atlanta Falcons, also from the NFC South, one game behind the others. The Seattle Seahawks are on the outside looking in.
Where it gets interesting is if the Saints win, they take their division and everything gets locked in. But there is a scenario where the Saints lose and fall down to the fifth spot with a Panther victory, giving Carolina the division. Add in a Vikings loss, which would tie the two teams with Carolina having the tie breakers over Minnesota, moving Carolina into the second spot with a bye-week. The Seahawks get in if they beat the Arizona Cardinals and the Panthers beat the Falcons.
Here is how things stack up going into the final weekend:
1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
2) Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
3) Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
4) New Orleans Saints (11-4)
5) Carolina Panthers (11-4)
6) Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
Still in the hunts: Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
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