With the Green Packers clinching home field on Sunday, beating the falling Chicago Bears 35-21, they clinched home field for the playoffs in their Super Bowl defense campaign. Although most of the places for the post season have been claimed, there are still a few spots up for grabs, wild card and all.
In the NFC, the Packers, Saints, 49ers and Lions have earned their spot in the playoffs. In the AFC the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers and for the first time in franchise history, the Houston Texas. Still, conditions, conditions.
The Patriots, coming off a dramatic 27-24 win over the Miami Dolphins, lead the AFC with a 12-3 record, the AFC East already in the bag. They can secure home field advantage by not losing next week at home against the Buffalo Bills, one of the few teams that have beaten the Pats this season. The Patriots can afford a loss if both Baltimore and Pittsburgh don’t win.
In the AFC North it’s the two headed battle between the Ravens and the Steelers. Baltimore have the advantage, and will win the division if they beat the Bengals in Cincinnati. The Ravens can afford to lose if the Steelers lose in Cleveland, while a win and a Patriots loss will give the Ravens home field throughout the playoffs.
For the Steelers, it’s a must win to win the division, but they need the Ravens not to win their game. If both the Ravens and the Patriots lose, the Steelers can claim home field advantage in the AFC.
The Bengals can make the AFC North a three-team playoff division just by winning. In fact, it can afford to lose if the New York Jets and one of the two, the Oakland Raiders or the Denver Broncos, don’t win their game.
In the AFC West, it’s between Denver and Oakland (8-7 both). Oakland host to broken San Diego Chargers, Denver host to highly unexpected Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos have their fate in their hands, needing a win to win the AFC West. They can afford to lose only if the Raiders lose as well. Oakland can make the playoffs through wild-card if they win and if Cincinnati, the Jets and the Titans lose.
For the Titans, a wild card spot is still up in the air, but they have a very difficult combination ahead of them. They need to beat the Texas, first and foremost. Then comes the tricky part – have the Bengals lose, Jets win and Raiders fail to win. Option 2 – Bengals lose, Jets win and Broncos fail to win. Option 3 – Bengals lose, Jets don’t win and both Raiders and Broncos win.
In the NFC, things are a bit simpler. The NFC East is a simple must win in New Jersey between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. Both teams are 8-7, no chance of a Wild Card. The winner takes the NFC East, and goes into the playoffs.
The 49ers will play to get a first round bye, with a win over the Rams enough to get them that off week. In the NFC South, the Falcons and the Saints meet on Monday Night Football. If the Saints don’t lose in the next two games, the division is theirs. If they win both games and the 49ers lose, they get the first round bye. The Falcons need to win twice and for the Saints to lose twice in order to win the division.