ATLANTA, December 30, 2020 — The first 16 weeks of the 2020 NFL regular season are in the history books. Week 17 is here. This week football jargon not used for 51 weeks is said over and over. We learn who controls their own destiny and who needs help making the playoffs. Some years it seems almost everybody has a shot at the playoffs. This year very few teams have possibilities. The specific focus is on the 2020-2021 AFC Playoff permutations and combinations.
A major change has taken place for the 2020 postseason. After 30 years of 12 teams making the playoffs, this year that expands to 14 teams. Seven teams from each conference go to the postseason. This means each conference will have three Wildcard teams instead of two. More importantly, it is no longer the top two seeds that get a first-round bye. The two seed now has to play a Wildcard game. Only the top seed with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs gets the first-round bye.
Five of the eight AFC Week 17 games have playoff implications.
In the AFC, three of the four divisions have already been clinched. The top seed is already settled. None of the Wildcard spots have been clinched, and five teams are competing for four spots that include all three Wildcards and the AFC South division crown.
The NFC playoff picture is another matter entirely.
Here is the AFC playoff picture.
1.) Kansas City Chiefs (14-1):
The Chiefs have clinched the AFC West and are the top seed. They have locked up home field throughout the playoffs.
2.) Buffalo Bills (12-3):
The Bills have clinched the AFC East and right now are the two seed, but they have not locked it up. If the Bills win next week they remain the two seed. Home field throughout the playoffs is out of reach. If the Bills lose, they can remain the two seed if Pittsburgh also loses. Should Pittsburgh win and the Bills lose, the Bills fall to the three seed.
3.) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3):
The Steelers are currently the three seed. They cannot fall lower than that. If the Steelers win next week and Buffalo loses, the Steelers move up to the two seed. The home field throughout the playoffs is out of reach.
4.) Tennessee Titans (10-5):
They control their own destiny and are in a pretty strong position with the tie-breakers. If the Titans win their regular-season finale, they are in as the four seed as AFC South champions. If the Titans and Indianapolis both lose, the Titans would still have the four seed. If the Titans lose and Indianapolis wins, The Titans would lose the AFC South but still make the playoffs as a Wildcard if Baltimore, Indianapolis or Miami lose.
5.) Miami Dolphins (10-5):
They control their own destiny but can only enter the playoffs as a Wildcard. If they beat Buffalo, they are in. They can lose and get in if Baltimore, Cleveland or Indianapolis loses.
6.) Baltimore Ravens (10-5):
They control their own destiny but can only enter the playoffs as a Wildcard. If they beat Cincinnati, they are in. They can lose and get in if either Cleveland or Indianapolis loses.
7.) Cleveland Browns (10-5):
They control their own destiny but can only enter the playoffs as a Wildcard. If they beat Pittsburgh, they are in. They can lose and get in if Indianapolis loses. If they lose and Indianapolis wins, they can get in under a miracle scenario if Tennessee loses, Baltimore wins, and Miami wins.
8.) Indianapolis Colts (10-5):
The Colts are the only AFC team alive that needs help to make the playoffs, but not much help. If they lose, they are out. If they win and Baltimore, Miami or Cleveland lose, they are in as a Wildcard. If they win and Tennessee loses, they are in as the four seed as AFC South champions.
Here are the AFC games with playoff implications:
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) at Cleveland Browns (10-5)
Baltimore Ravens (10-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)
Miami Dolphins (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (12-3)
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) at Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
Tennessee Titans (10-5) at Houston Texans (4-11)
1.) Chiefs 15-1
2.) Bills 13-3
3.) Steelers 12-4
4.) Colts 11-5
5.) Ravens 11-5
6.) Browns 11-5
7.) Titans 10-6
Out — Dolphins 10-6
The Chiefs and Steelers are resting their starters.
This helps the Browns, who will be playing at home against backups. The Dolphins have a tough road game against a Bills team playing their starters. The Ravens and Titans have road games against teams with inferior records. The Colts are at home against the worst team in the league.
Predictions of additional interest:
7.) Titans at 2.) Bills
6.) Browns at 3.) Steelers
5.) Ravens at 4.) Colts
The Chiefs have a bye week.
3.) Steelers at 2.) Bills, 5.) Ravens at 1.) Chiefs
AFC Title Game: 2.) Bills at 1.) Chiefs
It takes little expertise to pick the favorite.
Patrick Mahomes is only in his third year as a starter, but he is an alien life form. He has all the weapons at his disposal. The Chiefs are even better than last year. For the first time in his career, pass-happy Walrus Andy Reid even has a running back. He even lets the running back run the ball on occasion. The Chiefs know how to win playoff games.
This time they would have them at home.
Baltimore is potentially dangerous, but the Chiefs humiliated them this year in Baltimore. The Chiefs will shock nobody and win the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship Trophy to reach the Super Bowl for the second straight year. ‘
Kansas City Chiefs will also repeat as Super Bowl champions.