What if the Playoffs Started Today? 2021 NFL Playoffs Scenarios After Week 17
The race for the postseason was at a fever pitch this in the penultimate week of the 2021 regular season, as several teams clinched playoff spots while others were officially eliminated from contention. That being said, let’s take a quick look at all the happenings this past week and how they have shaped up the current playoff picture.
Read on to find out what the 2021 NFL Playoffs field looks like if the season had ended after Week 17’s action. And to be on top of all the developments from the ongoing 2021 NFL season and beyond, head on over to Nitrogen Sports Blog after this.
NFC Pretty Much Packed Up and Ready to Go
Only one playoff spot is left up for grabs in the NFC, as six teams have already qualified for the postseason. The top-seeded Green Bay Packers have already secured a first-round bye, leaving the No. 2 Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no. 3), Dallas Cowboys (No. 4), and Arizona Cardinals (No. 5) all jockeying for home-field advantage in the first round.
The San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints are fighting it out for the final wild-card spot in the conference. The Niners control their destiny, as a win over the Rams will vault them into the postseason. The Saints, meanwhile, need a road win over the Atlanta Falcons coupled with a San Francisco loss in order to bump the 49ers out of the picture.
Titanic Shake-Up in the AFC
With the Cincinnati Bengals’ upset of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the Chiefs lose their grip of the top seed in the AFC. That distinction now belongs to the Tennessee Titans, who are gearing up for yet another strong playoff push and could even get better with a possible return of elite running back Derrick Henry in time for the postseason.
The Bengals, by the way, also secured their first division title in six seasons with the win over KC and are currently the No. 3 seed in the conference. There will be plenty of movement between the top three teams mentioned thus far and the next two teams after the action from Week 17. The fourth-seeded Buffalo Bills and the fifth-seeded New England Patriots still have to settle the AFC East, with the Bills having an inside track to the division crown with a victory over the New York Jets this coming weekend.
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A Stellar Regular-Season Finale in Sin City
New England’s Week 17 matchup against the Miami Dolphins is a bit trickier, as the result of their matchup will likely decide the fates of the teams behind them. The 10-win Pats are virtual locks for the playoffs already despite their current wild-card status given their one-game lead over the other remaining wild-card teams all sporting 9-7 records. A victory coupled with a Buffalo loss, however, means that the Patriots will reclaim the AFC East throne this season.
Elsewhere, the sixth-seeded Indianapolis Colts have a very favorable matchup against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and will secure a playoff spot with a mere win against a Jags team willing to keep losing in order to secure the first-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
That being said, the final primetime game of the 2022 regular season is a huge one between the No. 7 Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders, who are outside the playoff bubble looking in. The winner of this AFC West clash in Vegas will advance to the postseason, whereas the loser will go home empty-handed.
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