As the 2022 NFL regular season winds down, Week 17 presents several critical games that will shape the playoff picture. With only one week remaining after this, several teams are still fighting for playoff positions and seeding.
Surging Ravens and Dolphins Clash With Playoff Implications
In one of the week’s marquee matchups, the red-hot Baltimore Ravens take on the resilient Miami Dolphins. The Ravens have won seven straight games behind MVP candidate Lamar Jackson. At 11-4, they can clinch the AFC North with a win. The 8-7 Dolphins are battling for a Wild Card spot after rallying from a five-game losing streak earlier in the year. This matchup could determine whether Miami makes the playoffs.
According to most NFL experts, the Ravens are slight favorites at home. However, the Dolphins beat Baltimore in Week 2 and match up well against their offense. This promises to be a thriller that could come down to the final possession.
NFC East Title on the Line for Cowboys-Lions
While the Philadelphia Eagles have clinched a playoff berth, the NFC East is still up for grabs between Philly and the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys host the Detroit Lions this week, needing a win to keep pace. Dallas is coming off an embarrassing loss to Tennessee on Thursday Night Football. They should be rested and ready to rebound against the struggling Lions.
Detroit is riding a seven-game losing streak coming into this matchup. While they’ve shown flashes this year behind rising stars Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown, most expect the Cowboys to handle them at home. However, the Lions have been feisty all season. An emotional letdown by Dallas after last week’s loss could open the door for an upset.
|Last 5 Games
If the favored Cowboys win as expected, they’ll remain tied with Philly atop the NFC East. That would set up another critical matchup when they visit the Eagles in Week 16 with the division crown at stake.
Chiefs Can Clinch AFC’s Top Seed
The AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs have already secured a playoff spot at 12-3. But this week, they can lock up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win over the struggling Denver Broncos. The inconsistent Broncos are just 4-11 after trading away star pass rusher Bradley Chubb. Still, divisional matchups can be tricky.
MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL’s top-scoring offense against Denver’s solid defense. While the Broncos limited Mahomes earlier this season, most expect Kansas City’s playmakers to shine at home as they clinch the critical top seed. With weapons like Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster catching passes from Mahomes, the Chiefs are poised to capitalize on the struggling Broncos.
Surging 49ers Face Vegas in Must-Win Game
Despite dealing with major injuries, the San Francisco 49ers have won eight straight games behind stellar defense and the emergence of Brock Purdy. At 12-4, they’ve clinched the NFC West. But this week’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders is crucial for their playoff seeding.
With a win and some help, San Francisco can earn the NFC’s #1 seed and first-round bye. But a loss opens the door for other top NFC contenders. Against a tough Raiders team fighting for its own fleeting playoff hopes, this won’t be easy. Fortunately for the 49ers, electrifying playmaker Christian McCaffrey is healthy during this critical stretch run. Between McCaffrey’s versatility, Purdy’s steady play, and dominating defense, San Francisco matches up well to beat Vegas.
Seahawks Try to Build Momentum Against Scrappy Steelers
After securing their first playoff berth since SB48, the Seattle Seahawks look to build momentum against the rebuilding Pittsburgh Steelers. Riding the energy of a loud home crowd, Seattle figures to handle Pittsburgh’s lackluster offense behind veteran Geno Smith. Smith has enjoyed a breakout year leading these surprising Seahawks.
However, Pittsburgh’s aggressive defense could pose problems, especially for injury-prone RB Kenneth Walker III. The Steelers have remained feisty all season despite offensive struggles. An inspired defensive effort or turnover-filled day by Pittsburgh could make this closer than the Seahawks would prefer. Still, Seattle needs to keep pace with San Francisco for optimal playoff seeding. That necessity should drive them to a hard-fought win on Sunday.
The Seahawks currently hold the NFC’s #3 seed at 7-2. A loss by the Vikings would move them up to #2. So they still have plenty to play for against the fading Steelers.
Packers Cling to Faint Playoff Hopes Against Rival Vikings
Despite a disastrous season after trading Davante Adams, the Green Bay Packers still have a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs. At 7-8, they’d need to win out and get lots of help. But it starts this week against their bitter rivals, the 12-3 Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings clinched the NFC North last week but still need a win to maintain their tenuous hold on the #2 playoff seed. They struggle away from home but have won seven straight at frigid Lambeau Field. Justin Jefferson poses huge problems for a banged-up Packers secondary.
Clearly, Minnesota has much more to play before the wild NFC playoff scramble truly begins. But Green Bay would relish dashing their postseason dreams while kindling their own far-fetched hopes. Expect high intensity between these storied rivals.
What This Means for the Playoff Picture
The NFC has six teams battling for three Wild Card spots behind division winners Philadelphia, Minnesota, and San Francisco. These crucial Week 17 matchups will determine who survives that logjam.
In the AFC, Kansas City can officially eliminate several teams by clinching home-field advantage. Who ultimately earns the critical first-round bye behind them remains up in the air.
With so much uncertainty still surrounding the brackets, this figures to be the most exciting Week 17 in recent memory. Every matchup carries high stakes that will ripple through the playoff seeding. Buckle up for a suspenseful Sunday full of twists and turns!
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.