The final week of the NFL season is upon us. We have no shortage of drama, with two divisional titles up for grabs in the NFC East and AFC South. We also have five teams in the AFC at 10-5 fighting for only four playoff spots. The NFC picture is less hectic with four teams already in, one spot for the NFC East winner, and the remaining two spots for the 9-6 Rams and the 8-7 Bears and Cardinals to fight for.
The only team in the picture with absolutely nothing to really play for this week is the Kansas City Chiefs. They already clinched the No. 1 spot in the AFC win, lose or draw. A handful of other teams have clinched playoff spots, but depending on results they could either move up or down, which means they all should be motivated to go out and win.
We have a lot of marquee games given this information, but here are the highest-leverage ones for Week 17 to keep an eye on.
Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles
At 6-9, most teams are planning golf foursomes for next week. In the NFC East, that puts you in first place. Washington is in a true win-and-in game. If the Football Team loses, Washington will be eliminated by the winner of the game between the Cowboys and Giants. A Cowboys win would put them at 7-9 with the best record in the East. A Giants win would create a three-way tie with Dallas and Washington, but the Giants own the tiebreaker in that scenario. The only path for Washington is to win, making the results of that other game irrelevant.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are one of five teams in the AFC with a 10-5 record. If the playoffs started today, they would be the bubble team on the outside looking in. They can win the division with a victory and a Titans loss this week. They can also miss the playoffs if Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore and Tennessee all win. The Colts should be able to handle their business against the league’s worst team, but they will be watching scoreboards as they will still need help to continue their season.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
The Bills have already locked up the AFC East. They are tied with the Steelers at 12-3 but own the tiebreaker, putting them as the No. 2 team for now. A win solidifies that. The Dolphins are one of five teams at 10-5. A win guarantees they make the playoffs. If they lose, they would need a loss by one of the other four teams as well to backdoor their way into a playoff spot. The good news is they own the tiebreakers over the other teams. Miami would still prefer to win to lock it up, but they do have the highest probability of the remaining teams to make the playoffs if they lose.