FORT MYERS, FLORIDA December 26, 2017: With 16 weeks of the 2017 NFL regular season in the history books, Week 17 is upon us. This is the week where football jargon not used for 358 days is said repeatedly. We learn who controls their own destiny and who needs help to make the playoffs. Some years it seems almost everybody has a shot at the playoffs. This year most of the issues involve seedings.
Five of the eight Week 17 NFC games have playoff implications. Five of the six NFC playoff spots have been clinched. Most of the issues involve seedings. Here is the NFC playoff picture with one week to go, complete with permutations, combinations and predictions.
In the NFC, three of the four division winners have already been decided. The only thing left to determine among them is seedings. Only one wildcard is up for grabs as two teams compete for the final spot.
Here is the NFC playoff picture with one week to go, complete with permutations, combinations, and predictions.
Permutations and Combinations:
1.) The Philadelphia Eagles (13-2):
Having clinched the NFC East, the Panthers also have the home field throughout the playoffs.
2.) The Minnesota Vikings (12-3):
The Vikings have clinched the NFC North. Right now they are the two seed with a first-round bye. With a win next week, they would clinch the two seed with a first-round bye. If they lose they can still keep the two seed if Carolina also loses or if New Orleans wins. If the Vikings lose their season finale, Carolina wins, and New Orleans loses the Vikings would fall to the three seed and have to host a game on Wildcard Weekend.
3.) The Los Angeles Rams (11-4):
They have clinched the NFC West and right now the Rams are the three seed. A first-round bye is out of reach. The Rams can lose and retain the three seed if New Orleans and Carolina both also lose. If the Rams lose next week, they fall to the four seed if either New Orleans or Carolina wins.
4.) The New Orleans Saints (11-4):
The Saints are tied for the NFC South lead. If they win next week, they clinch the NFC South. They can still win the NFC South if they lose if Carolina also loses. If New Orleans loses and Carolina wins, New Orleans falls to the five seed and will play a road Wildcard playoff game. If the Saints win and the Rams lose, the Saints move up to the three seed. A first round bye is out of reach.
5.) The Carolina Panthers (11-4):
Having clinched a playoff spot the Panthers are currently the five seed Wildcard. They cannot go lower. If the Panthers win next week and New Orleans loses, the Panthers win the NFC South and move up to the four seed. If the Panthers win and New Orleans and Minnesota both lose, the Panthers vault to the two seed and a first-round bye.
6.) The Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
Right now the Falcons are the six seed but have not clinched a playoff spot. If the Falcons win, they are in the playoffs as the six seed. Falcons lose, they can still enter the playoffs as the six seed if Seattle also loses. However, iff the Falcons lose and Seattle wins, the Falcons are out of the playoffs entirely.
7.) The Seattle Seahawks (8-7):
The Seahawks are on the outside looking in. If they win next week and Atlanta loses, they are in as the six seed. Otherwise, they are out.
Chicago Bears (5-10) at Minnesota Vikings (12-3)
San Francisco 49ers (5-10) at Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
New Orleans Saints (11-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11)
Arizona Cardinals (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
Carolina Panthers (11-4) at Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
None of the results from the early games will allow teams playing the late games who are fighting for positioning to rest their starters.
Regular season predictions:
1.) Philadelphia Eagles (14-2) — At home against the Dallas Cowboys, Doug Pederson may just rest all of his starters. It will not matter.
2.) Minnesota Vikings (13-3) — They host the lowly Bears. This will not be a close game.
3.) Los Angeles Rams (12-4) — The Rams host the 5-10 49ers, who started 1-10 but have been 4-0 since Jimmy Garoppollo took over. As well as the 49ers have been playing, the Rams at home will handle business.
4.) New Orleans Saints (12-4) — With everything on the line, the Saints will win over dysfunctional Tampa Bay.
5.) Carolina Panthers (11-5) — On the road at Atlanta, Carolina falls to a desperate Atlanta team.
6.) Atlanta Falcons (10-6) — At home, their offense gets it done against a very good Carolina defense to make the playoffs.
NFC Playoff Predictions:
Wild Cards: 6.) Falcons at 3.) Rams, 5.) Panthers at 4.) Saints
Divisionals: 3.) Rams at 2.) Vikings, 4.) Saints at 1.) Eagles
NFC Title Game: 2.) Vikings at 1.) Eagles
NFC Champion: The Eagles are a fine football team, but the Vikings have the advantage on defense and at quarterback. Cold weather on the road will not bother the Vikings, who are built Mike Zimmer tough. In a battle between smash mouth against a West Coast Offense team, go with smash mouth. These Vikings also have more playoff experience than the Eagles. Go with the Vikings.