PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Let’s take our weekly look back at the week that was in the NFL for week 16.
AFC NORTH RECAP
A crazy week in the AFC North saw one team get blown out, one team clinch the division and one team eliminate another team from playoff contention.
The Ravens finally took care of business to clinch the AFC North. The 4th time is a charm for the Ravens in attempting to clinch the division. Baltimore had a chance to clinch each of the prior 3 weeks, but were unsuccessful until Sunday after they beat up the New York Giants at home.
The Bengals and Steelers each had their season defined in the same game at Heinz Field. The Bengals beating Pittsburgh, not only eliminated the Steelers from any playoff possibilities, but also guaranteed the Bengals a playoff spot for the second straight season.
The fourth and final team in the AFC North also took a loss on Sunday as the Browns lost to Denver 34-12 in the Mile High State.
That loss ended any hope the Browns had of catching the Steelers for third place in the standings. Had the Browns won on Sunday, then in the season finale, they would have finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings for the first time since 1989.
The AFC North final standings are set in stone for the season, but there are still two rivalry games to be played in the final week of the regular season.
Here is what the slate looks like for Week 17:
WEEK 17 SCHEDULE:
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
Week 16 did wonders clearing things up for what the playoff picture looked like.
The AFC has their six teams with the wildcard seeds locked into their spots.
As of right now, Houston is the top seed, with Denver at no. 2, New England at 3 and Baltimore at no. 4. That can shuffle in pretty much way you can imagine, depending on the outcome of each of those teams games.
Houston can clinch home field throughout the playoffs by going on the road and beating Indianapolis, who is not playing for anything this week. Denver can also clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a win and a Houston loss.
A win alone for the Broncos clinches a first round bye for Denver and at least one home game in the playoffs.
As for the Patriots, they need some help to get a bye or home field, but first and foremost they need to win their season finale against Miami.
The Patriots are assured of a home game in the playoffs, but they don’t know when that game will be or who that opponent may be.
The Ravens still have a chance at climbing in the standings, but they do know that they will be hosting a playoff game the opening weekend of the playoffs. They can move to the no. 3 seed with a win in Cincinnati and a Patriots loss.
If that were to happen, the Bengals and Ravens would square off two straight weeks.
If the season were to end today, this is how the teams would be seeded:
1. Houston (12-3) AFC South *clinched playoff berth
2. Denver (12-3) AFC West *clinched division title
3. New England (11-4) AFC East *clinched division title
4. Baltimore (10-5) AFC North *clinched division title
5. Indianapolis (10-5)
6. Cincinnati (9-6)
In the NFC, it is not as clear as the AFC. Four teams are in and five teams are still fighting for those final two spots in the final week of the season.
Atlanta has the top spot in the NFC locked up and they will have home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. That is where the simplicity of the NFC Playoff picture ends.
Green Bay, San Francisco and Seattle have all clinched spots, but are all still fighting for seeding. Green Bay has clinched the NFC North and currently hold the #2 seed, however they could drop to three if the Packers and 49ers lose and Seattle beats St. Louis this weekend.
San Francisco and Seattle are still battling it out to claim the NFC West division title despite both teams having already clinched a spot in the playoff field.
A win by the 49ers and they win the division. Seattle needs to win and have Arizona beat San Francisco. Now for the not so clear part.
The Washington Redskins are currently in the top spot in the NFC East and have a game up on both Dallas and New York, however, they still need to beat Dallas this Sunday to clinch the division title. That game between Dallas and Washington will set the tone for the wild card race. If Dallas wins, Washington is still in the picture for a wild card spot, along with Minnesota, Chicago and the New York Giants.
Unfortunately, the Dallas-Washington game is the final game of the season, being played on Sunday night, so Sunday afternoon will be chaos for teams trying to best position themselves to stake claim to that final wild card spot.
Here is a look at the NFC playoffs, if the season were to end today:
1. Atlanta (13-2) NFC South *clinched division title
2. Green Bay (11-4) NFC North *clinched division title
3. San Francisco (10-4-1) NFC West *clinched playoff spot
4. Washington (9-6) NFC East
5. Seattle (10-5)
6. Minnesota (9-6)
NY Giants (8-7)