The final week of the regular season and a number of teams have punched their ticket to the playoffs. Some teams have it all to play for and there are some interesting scenarios still to play out
There are only 4 teams currently in. New England, Pittsburgh. Jacksonville (first appearance since 2007) and Kansas City. The other two wildcard spots are still to be confirmed. The Baltimore Ravens are in the strongest position and only have to beat the Cincinnati Bengals to claim a spot. The other three teams in the hunt have slightly more complex scenarios.
The Tennessee Titans would be in if the season ended today and will make the playoffs with a win over the Jaguars or with defeats from the Chargers and Bills.
The LA Chargers started the season 0-4 so for them still to be in the hunt is a slight miracle. So are their playoff hopes. A win over the Raiders combined with a Titans loss to Jacksonville and a Ravens win over the Bengals would punch their ticket. They could also sneak in with a win and if the Titans and Bills both lose. In short a Titans win knocks the Chargers out of the playoffs.
Of the four wild-card contenders, the Bills are the longest shot to make the playoffs. They have two clear paths. They need to win in Miami this week and hope the Ravens lose or the Bills need to combine a win and losses from the Titans and Chargers. All straight forward? No.
Of them all the Ravens have the clearest path but being given a 9.5 point start against a Bengals team that are playing for the last time under their head coach Marvin Lewis may be a stretch. They should get a win however take the Bengals +9.5.
The Chargers are getting a 7.5 point start over the Raiders. Doable. The Titans are 3.5 point favourites over Jacksonville (who will possibly rest some players) and have to be the lead team to take the other playoff spot.
A little less complex with only one spot up for grabs and only two teams with a chance of getting it. Philadelphia, Minnesota, LA Rams, New Orleans and Carolina are all in. The Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks are the only other two teams who could make it.
The Falcons play the Panthers this week. Win and they are in. Lose and the Falcons still make the playoffs as the No. 6 seed if the Seahawks stumble against the Cardinals. Or vice versa Seahawks win and Falcons lose – and so on.
Atlanta are home team favourites by 3.5 points. Fair call. The Seahawks are given an 8.5 point start against the Cardinals – again a fair line. Both recommended with the Falcons the team to take that last spot.
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