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NFL Playoff Picture: Patriots can clinch home field in AFC during final week of season

(Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks heading into Week 17.

AFC

1. yz-New England Patriots (12-3): AFC East champion. They can clinch home field by beating the Jets. A Pittsburgh loss would also do the trick.

2. yz-Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3): AFC North champion. If they can complete the Browns’ winless season and get help from the Jets, who would need to win at New England, then Pittsburgh would reclaim the No. 1 seed.

3. y-Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5): AFC South champion. They have nothing at stake in Sunday’s game at Nashville, a contest that means everything to the Titans. Will the Jags rest key players, or decide to make an impact on the AFC wild-card race?

4. y-Kansas City Chiefs (9-6): AFC West champion. Back-to-back division champs for the first time, they’re locked into the fourth seed.

5. Baltimore Ravens (9-6): Wild card No. 1. Beat the Bengals on Sunday and a wild-card spot is assured. The Ravens can also back in if the Bills or Titans lose.

6. Tennessee Titans (8-7): Wild card No. 2. Their 7-4 record in AFC games currently gives them the tiebreaker over the Chargers and Bills. Beat the Jags on Sunday, and the Titans lock up a wild card. Joint losses by the Bolts and Buffalo would also get Tennessee in.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7): Currently out of playoff field. They need to beat the Raiders on Sunday. They need the Titans to lose. If the Bolts get both those outcomes and either a Buffalo loss or Baltimore win, then they advance to postseason.

8. Buffalo Bills (8-7): Currently out of playoff field. While wishing they’d started Tyrod Taylor against the Chargers in Week 11 … Still Buffalo has a reasonable shot to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Bills need simply win in Miami and hope either the Ravens lose or the Chargers and Titans both lose.

x-clinched playoff berth
y-clinched division
z-clinched first-round bye

NFC

1. y*-Philadelphia Eagles (13-2): NFC East champion. They won’t play another game away from Lincoln Financial Field this season … unless they reach the Super Bowl.

2. y-Minnesota Vikings (12-3): NFC North champion. Beat the Bears, and the Vikes get a week off. Minnesota can still get the bye if the Panthers lose, the Saints win or the Rams win.

3. y-Los Angeles Rams (11-4): NFC West champion. Division kings for the first time since 2003, they’ll be hosting a game in the wild-card round but have no shot at a bye.

4. x-New Orleans Saints (11-4): NFC South leader. A win at Tampa or loss by the Panthers gives the Saints the division and a home game in the wild-card round.

5. x-Carolina Panthers (11-4): Wild card No. 1. If they beat the Falcons, and the Bucs upset the Saints, then Carolina wins the NFC South and plays at home in the wild-card round. (And add losses by the Rams and Vikings to that scenario, then the Panthers would jump all the way up to the second seed.) Otherwise, Cam Newton and Co. will hit the road on the playoffs’ opening weekend.

6. Atlanta Falcons (9-6): Wild card No. 2. Win and they’re in as the conference’s second wild card. A Seattle loss also allows Atlanta to defend its NFC crown.

7. Seattle Seahawks (9-6): Currently out of playoff field. Their only path to a sixth consecutive postseason appearance requires a victory over the Cardinals on Sunday coupled with a loss by the Falcons, who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Seattle.

x-clinched playoff berth
y-clinched division
z-clinched first-round bye
*-clinched home-field advantage

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