With one week left in the 2019 NFL season, 11 of the 12 playoff teams are decided. Yet in each conference, the seeding can drastically change depending on Week 17 results. Additionally, the battle for the 6th seed in the AFC is between three teams. Before it all takes shape, we will cover the different playoff scenarios that could occur.
AFC Wild Card
The three teams fighting for the AFC’s 6th seed are the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans are currently the frontrunners, while the Raiders need the most help to get in. Here’s what needs to happen for each.
One of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, the Titans have gone on a tear in the second half of the season to keep themselves alive. Led by Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Titans had a chance to win their division prior to Week 15. However, after losing to the Houston Texans, the Titans knew that a Week 17 victory would still keep them in play.
With a return match against the Texans in Week 17, if the Titans win then they’re the 6th seed. A loss, however, means they’ll rely on the Steelers losing. Tennessee will like their chances though, as Houston has essentially nothing to play for, as it’s highly unlikely they’ll move up in the seedings. The Titans also made a decision in Week 16 to rest a few injured players, so that all their eggs are fresh and in the Week 17 basket.
The Steelers do not control their destiny at this point. Even if they beat their biggest rival, the Baltimore Ravens, they still need the Titans to lose. If Pittsburgh lose, they’re eliminated regardless.
Despite boasting one of the better Defences in the NFL, the Steelers have struggled on Offense with backup QBs Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Allowing a total of 33 points in the last two weeks, Pittsburgh now have one of the league’s best Offenses. But in their favour is the fact that Baltimore, who have secured the 1st seed no matter what, will rest players. If the Steelers can continue to be stingy on Defence, and the Offense can move the ball a little better, they can keep their hopes up.
The Raiders’ chances are slim. Not only do they need to win, but they’re relying on BOTH the Titans and Ravens losing. As stated above, the chances of that happening is low, as their opponents are staying healthy for the postseason by resting starters. Even if this all happens, the Raiders need Indianapolis Colts to win so that the strength of schedule tiebreakers goes in their favour. It’s virtually safe to say Oakland are done for 2019.
Playoff Seeding Permutations
Both conferences have a high chance for movement in their current seedings, although the AFC is a little clearer and stable. The NFC has a much more complicated scenario. It won’t be decided until the final game either – San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks.
The Baltimore Ravens have secured the top spot regardless of Week 17 results. They have the tiebreaker over the only team who can catch them (New England Patriots), so a win or loss for them is irrelevant. Similarly, the Buffalo Bills can’t move from the 5th seed, as they can’t catch division leaders Patriots or be caught by the 6th seed. The 6th seed is, as outlined above, the final spot to be determined.
The 2nd-4th seeds are subject to change, but there are few variables. The Patriots are the current #2 seeds, and can only drop to #3 if they lose AND the Kansas City Chiefs win. If the Chiefs win and Patriots win, Kansas City will remain the 3rd seed. This leaves the Texans as the 4th seed, unless they win AND Chiefs lose.
There are few definites in the NFC. The current standings are the 49ers in 1st, then the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. The current wild cards are Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings. Only the Eagles are locked into their 4th seed. The only way they can move is by elimination if they lose and the Dallas Cowboys win.
If the 49ers beat the Seahawks, then the former remains the top seed. A 49ers loss and a Saints win puts the latter on top. Seattle are virtually locked in at the 5th seed, even if they win. The Packers can move into the second seed if they win and the Saints lose. Minnesota is guaranteed the 6th seed after losing to the Packers in Week 16.