Only one week left in the 2013 NFL regular season, with four playoff spots up for grabs in the NFC, as the divisional battles take a front seat: The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers for the NFC North, Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East. The postseason scenarios are a bit more complicated in the AFC.
Only one spot up for grabs, as the Dolphins, Ravens, Steelers and Chargers all fighting for that final ticket, while the rest of the games among teams already clinching their place in the playoffs like the Seahakws, Broncos and Panthers will be about improving their position, hopefully securing a first round bye and maybe even home field advantage.
The Seattle Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot despite their loss to the Cardinals, but they’re still not done about taking the NFC West division title and securing home field advantage for the playoffs. They can achieve that by winning their game against the Rams (playing in Seattle). However, they can afford to lose that game if the San Francisco 49ers lose in either of their next two games against the Falcons on Monday Night football or the Cardinals in week 17.
The 49ers have two games left to play. They need to win just one of them in order to clinch a playoff spot, but they can still win the division and get a first round bye if they win both their games and the Seahawks lose their next one. They can also claim home field advantage for the playoffs if the previous scenario happens, while the Panthers also lose their next game against the Falcons.
The Arizona Cardinals are still in the race thanks to their win against the Niners, but need to beat the Niners to lose their game against the Falcons and against the Cards on the final game of the season. They can also get there if they beat the 49ers in week 17 while the Saints lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On to the NFC South, where the Carolina Panthers are in control at 11-4. They can win their division and get a first-round bye if they win their next game or the Saints lose theirs. They can finish as the #1 seed in the NFC if they win their game, the Seahawks lose theirs and the Niners win both their remaining games.
The New Orleans Saints still haven’t clinched a playoff spot, needing a win, or a loss in one of the Niners’ remaining games to get the job done. They can finish first in the NFC South, which also means a first-round bye, if they win and the Panthers lose.
Things in the NFC North and NFC East are a lot simpler. In the Cowboys – Eagles clash, Dallas need to win to make the playoffs, winning the division. A loss or a tie means the Eagles finish first. The same goes for the Bears & Packers: The Bears have the better record, so a tie will be enough. The Packers have to win.
The Denver Broncos have won the AFC West and a first round bye; the New England Patriots have clinched the AFC East; The Colts have won the AFC South; and the Bengals have won the AFC North. The Chiefs are going to make it through a wild card spot, with four teams trying to claim it.
The Miami Dolphins play the Jets in week 17. They need a win, and for either the Ravens to lose against Cincinnati or for he Chargers to beat the Chiefs in order to make the playoffs.
The Ravens are in with three scenarios: Beating the Bengals and the Chargers losing; Winning while Miami lose; They can also lose to Cincinnati, but will need Pittsburgh, Miami and San Diego to lose.
The Pittsburgh Steelers need a similar thing to happen in order to make the playoffs: Win their game against the Browns, and for Baltimore, Miami and San Diego to lose.
The Chargers might be the third AFC West team in the playoffs if they beat the Chiefs, also needing Baltimore and Miami to lose.
That’s not all there is to play for. The Broncos can claim home field advantage if they win against the Raiders. The Patriots can still lose their first round bye if they lose, and can get the #1 seed if they win their game while the Broncos lose theirs.
The Colts can get a first round bye if they beat the Jags while the Patriots lose to the Bills and the Bengals lose to the Ravens. Cincinnati can also finish as the #2 seed if they beat Baltimore while the Patriots lose.