LOS ANGELES: The 2018 NFL regular season has now put 16 weeks in the history books, Week 17 is here. This is the week where football jargon ignored for 358 days is dusted off the shelf and quoted 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 many issues involve seedings.
Only four of the eight Week 17 NFC games have playoff implications. All four divisions have been clinched. Five of the six NFC playoff spots have been clinched.
The AFC Playoff picture is an entirely different animal.
Here is the NFC playoff picture with one week to go, complete with permutations, combinations, and predictions.
1.) New Orleans Saints (13-2):
The Saints have clinched the NFC South and home field throughout the playoffs. They are the top seed.
2.) Los Angeles Rams (12-3):
The Rams have clinched the NFC West and right now are the two seed. If they win their regular-season finale, they remain the two seed with a first-round bye. The Rams can lose and retain the two seed if Chicago also loses. If the Rams lose next week and Chicago wins, the Rams fall to the three seed. They would then have to host a Wildcard game. They cannot fall lower than the three seed.
3.) Chicago Bears (11-4):
The Bears have clinched the NFC North and are currently the three seed. They cannot finish lower than that. Right now they would have to host a Wildcard game. If they win next week and the Rams lose, the Bears would move up to the two seed and get a first-round bye.
4.) Dallas Cowboys (9-6):
The Cowboys have clinched the NFC East and are locked into the four seed. They will host a Wildcard game.
5.) Seattle Seahawks (9-6) —
The Seattle Seahawks have clinched a playoff berth and are currently the five seed. They can go no higher. If they lose next week and Minnesota wins, the Seahawks fall to the six seed. Either way they are on the road for their Wildcard game.
6.) Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) —
The Minnesota Vikings are currently the six seed but have not clinched anything. If they win, they make the playoffs. If they win and Seattle loses, the Vikings move up to the five seed. They cannot go higher than that. If the Vikings lose, they can still make the playoffs as the six seed if Philadelphia also loses. If the Vikings lose and Philadelphia wins, the Vikings are out.
7.) Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) —
The defending champions are on the ropes and are currently on the outside looking in. They have only one path to the playoffs. If they win and Minnesota loses, the Eagles are in as the six seed. Otherwise, they are out.
Here are the NFC games with playoff implications:
Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) at Washington Redskins (7-8)
Chicago Bears (11-4) at Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1)
Sar Francisco 49ers (4-11) at Los Angeles Rams (12-3)
Arizona Cardinals (3-12) at Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
1.) Saints 14-2
2.) Rams 13-3
3.) Bears 11-5
4.) Cowboys 9-7
5.) Seahawks 10-6
6.) Vikings 9-6-1
Out — Eagles 9-7
The Saints may rest all their starters but Carolina is such a mess that the Saints may win at home anyway. The Rams and Seahawks are at home against bad teams. The Vikings are fighting for their lives. At home they will beat the Bears. Their reward will be a rematch the following week in Chicago, which will not go nearly as well for them. The Cowboys may rest everyone.
6.) Vikings at 3.) Bears, 5.) Seahawks at 4.) Cowboys
The Saints and Rams have the bye week.
Divisional Round: 5.) Seahawks at 1.) Saints, 3.) Bears at 2.) Rams
NFC Title Game: 2.) Rams at 1.) Saints
The Bears won ugly over the Rams in Chicago, but in Los Angeles trust the Rams. The Seahawks and the Saints play another game that is totally different when you switch the home field. Normally defense wins championships, but football is normally played in cold weather.
This year the pinball offenses have a home field with dome stadiums and warm weather. The Rams and Saints played a thriller, won 45-35 by the Saints. Both teams are great. This one comes down to home field. The Saints will hoist the George Halas NFC Championship Trophy and reach the Super Bowl.