The NFL playoff picture is almost settled as we enter the final week of the regular season. Five of the eight divisions already have a title winner, and one of the remaining three already has two playoffs berths locked up. Those teams need the final week of play to determine who takes the division crown and who needs to settle for the wild card.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots locked up the AFC East title and home field advantage by defeating the , 34-3, on Sunday. They host the Miami Dolphins in an attempt to finish the season 14-2. The New York Jets hold the second wild card spot with a 10-5 record as of now. They lost to the Chicago Bears, 38-34, on Sunday.
In the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens each have secured a spot in the playoffs with 11-4 records. Right now, the Steelers hold the AFC North crown because they have a better record in the division. The Steelers visit the Cleveland Browns while the Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Kansas City Chiefs locked up the AFC West title following their 34-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans. They may have had to wait a week to claim the title had the San Diego Chargers won this week, but the Bengals kept the Chargers down, 34-20. The Oakland Raiders also lost any chance of winning the West following the Chiefs' victory and their loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The AFC South is the only real unsettled division. The Indianapolis Colts hold a playoff spot with a 9-6 record, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Should the Colts lose and the Jaguars win, both teams will finish with 9-7 records. They split the season series, which moves the tie breaker to best record in division play. The Jaguars would also obtain the best record in the division with a win and a Colts loss.
In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons currently hold the No. 1 seed and the NFC South playoff spot, but they will need to defeat the New Orleans Saints on Monday night to obtain home field advantage. The Saints currently hold the first wild card spot.
The Philadelphia Eagles clinched the NFC East title and are the No. 3 seed. The Chicago Bears (11-4) have secured the NFC North and are the No. 2 seed for now. The Green Bay Packers (9-6) hold the second wild card spot over the New York Giants (9-6) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6) due to strength of strength of victory.
The NFC West presents a dilemma for the NFL as the winner of that division could possibly be 7-9 and hosting a playoff game when the game concludes on Sunday night. The St. Louis Rams currently hold the spot with a 7-8 record. They will play the Seattle Seahawks, who can make the playoffs as the NFC West winner with a victory. If Seattle wins, the season series will be a split and the Seahawks will have a better record in the division. A 7-9 division champion could happen and will lead the NFL to think about re-seeding teams in the playoffs.