The Armchair Quarterback's Guide To The NFL: Week 17

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Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; John Norwood of Norwood, OH is dressed as Santa before the game between the Minnesota Vikings to the Philadelphia Eagles at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Armchair Quarterback’s Take Of The Week

For NFL Fans It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

As I sit down to write this, I am already off on the road for my family’s four day tour that includes four different family Christmases. Although it’s a hectic time of year, it’s hard to beat a two week stretch filled with faith, family, food, and of course……football. Even if you’re not a huge fan of holiday music, I think we all have heard Andy Williams’ “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” and that sentiment really holds true for NFL fans right now.

As we enter the final week of the NFL season there are still SO many teams with things to play for. Some teams are fighting for playoff spots, some are fighting for first round byes, and the number one seeds and home field advantage are up for grabs as well. Instead of the last week of the season being chalked full of teams resting all their key players, it will instead be full of exciting games. It’s almost like the playoffs are starting a week early for some teams.

In case you’re confused by all the playoff scenarios that are in play this weekend, here’s a breakdown for you.


Seattle has clinched a playoff spot and will be the #1 seed if they beat the Rams.

San Francisco has clinched a playoff spot and could still get the #1 seed if they beat the Cardinals and the Seahawks and Panthers lose.

Carolina has clinched a playoff spot. They can clinch their division with a win against the Falcons or with a New Orleans loss. There is even a tie-breaker scenario where they could get the #1 seed if they win, the Seahawks lose, and the 49ers win too creating a three way tie.

The Saints have a lot on the line this weekend. Depending on how things shake out they could have a first round bye or miss the playoffs altogether. If they win, they make the playoffs. If they win and Carolina loses, they win the division and get a first round bye.

Arizona has had a great season, but they need to win against the 49ers and have the Saints lose to Tampa Bay in order for them to get into the playoffs.

Then there are the literal play in games in the NFC.

Philadelphia plays at Dallas with the winner taking the division and the playoff spot that comes with it.

It’s the same in Chicago where the Packers play the Bears with the NFC North and a playoff spot on the line.

If you’re counting, that’s nine of the sixteen NFC teams with very meaningful, playoff impacting games in the final game of the season.

Now onto the AFC.


The Denver Broncos can clinch home field advantage with a win at Oakland or a New England loss.

The Patriots could finish anywhere from the #1 to #4 seed in the AFC. If they win against Buffalo and Denver loses they get home field advantage. If they win, they at least get a first round bye. If they lose and either Cincinnati or Indianapolis win, they lose the bye.

The Bengals have clinched a playoff spot, but need to beat the Ravens and have the Patriots lose in order to get a first round bye.

The Colts have also clinched a playoff spot, but need to beat the Jaguars and have both the Patriots and Bengals lose in order to get a first round bye.

The Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot and can’t change their slotting at all.

The last wild card spot is up for grabs between the Dolphins, Ravens, Chargers, and Steelers. This is where things get a little complicated. Let’s start with the clear cut options.

San Diego will make the playoffs if they win against Kansas City and the Dolphins and Ravens both lose.

Pittsburgh needs to beat Cleveland and have the Dolphins, Ravens, and Chargers all lose in order to sneak into the playoffs.

Here’s where it’s confusing. The Ravens hold a head to head tie breaker over both the Dolphins and Chargers, so if they win against the Bengals and either of those two teams lose, the Ravens are in. However, if it finishes in a three way tie between them, the Dolphins, and the Chargers the head to head tie breakers are thrown out in favor of conference record and it would go to Miami.

So for Miami to make the playoffs they need to beat the Jets. Then they either need the Ravens to lose or for it to finish in the aforementioned three way tie.

Confused yet?

Regardless, that’s eight of the sixteen AFC teams still playing for something in week 17.

That means that over half the teams in the NFL are still playing with playoff implications on the line in the final week of the season. That’s great for NFL fans.

Why? Because of this weekend’s 16 NFL games, 13 of them have playoff implications. That’s right, there are only three games that have no playoff implications (Redskins at Giants, Texans at Titans, and Lions at Vikings). Best of all, there are essentially two playoff games this week, with Packers at Bears and Eagles at Cowboys being win and advance games for all four teams.

So enjoy this time NFL fans. Enjoy the time with friends and family. Enjoy the good food and drink. Enjoy this great weekend of games in the NFL, and for all of you that celebrate this holiday like I do, have a a Very Merry Christmas.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Now on to this week’s game predictions…………

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