With only two weeks remaining in the 2017 NFL Regular Season, only half of the playoff spots have been secured. There is still much to be determined in terms of which teams will reach the postseason, as well as where those teams will be (whether or not they earn a first round bye). The AFC Conference is especially wide open, with only two teams already securing their playoff bid.
Those two teams are New England, which has already won the AFC East and earned a bye in the opening round, and Cincinnati, who has already secured a playoff spot but has not yet won their division. Bengals can clinch the AFC North and the opening round bye with a win against the Broncos in Denver on Monday night. While Denver will possibly still be without starting quarterback Peyton Manning, word out of Cincinnati is that AJ McCarron will start again for the Bengals. Very important game for both teams that will have to rely on their backup quarterbacks, and the online sportsbooks list the hometown Broncos as a small 3.5-point favorite.
We mentioned last week how Pittsburgh was a popular dark horse selection in the AFC despite the Steelers not even being currently slated for a playoff spot. After a comeback win vs. Denver last Sunday, the Steelers are now currently in the sixth and final spot in the AFC playoff standings, however they still share identical records with the Chiefs and Jets. Pittsburgh does have an easy path the rest of the way, being listed as a big ten-point road favorite at Baltimore this Sunday and then facing a Browns team that was a double-digit underdog last week at Seattle as well as this week at Kansas City.
According to several websites sportsbook software website with even some that talk about how much money is needed to be a bookie, the AFC South Division become much clearer after Houston won at Indianapolis last week, however they lost QB Yates in the process and are now down to Cowboys-sendoff Brandon Weeden under center. Houston need to win one of their next two games to win the division, and face easy opponents in Tennessee and Jacksonville to close the regular season.
Not as much drama in the NFC as Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, and Seattle have already punched their ticket to the postseason, and Minnesota is a virtual lock to reach the playoffs as well. The only real question mark remains in the NFC East, where Washington currently leads the division with a 7-7 straight up record.
Redskins travel to Philadelphia in a game that could very well decide the division. If Washington wins outright as a 3-point underdog, then they are in. If Philadelphia holds serve on their home field, then they can secure their playoff spot with a win next week on the road against the New York Giants. The Giants do have an outside chance of coming back to win the division, but they would need a ton of help.
We’ll be back next week to update the NFL Playoff scenarios and take a look at Conference Futures and Super Bowl futures.