PFT’s conference championship game picks

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Knotted up with three games to go, the PFT Postseason Picks challenge will definitely have a leader come Sunday night. We disagree on one of the two games to be played on Sunday.

For the picks in both of the Conference Championship games, keep reading. And then keep counting the hours and minutes until a pair of excellent games get started on Sunday afternoon.

Last week, MDS was 3-1, and I went 2-2. The difference? He believed in the Eagles. Even if he no longer does.

Jaguars at Patriots

MDS’s take: Last week everyone dismissed the Jaguars’ chances of winning in Pittsburgh, and this week everyone is dismissing the Jaguars’ chances of winning in New England. I think Jacksonville is a better team than people give it credit for, but the difference this week is that Bill Belichick and his staff will have a better game plan than Mike Tomlin and his staff had last week. The way to beat the Jaguars is to run the ball and stop the run, and I think the Patriots’ game plan will be heavily focused on that. Tom Brady had 53 passes last week. He won’t have anything close to that this week, as the Patriots will win the game on the ground and head to yet another Super Bowl.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 30, Jaguars 20.

Florio’s take: The Jaguars have the defense to slow down the Patriots, with a strong rush coming up the middle and man-to-man coverage behind it. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is the X-factor, but the Broncos beat the Patriots two years ago in this round, and Gronk had eight catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. Offensively, however, the Jaguars may not be able to match the Patriots. Coach Bill Belichick will implement a game plan aimed at taking away running back Leonard Fournette, which will require quarterback Blake Bortles to make a big throw in a big spot, eventually. If he can’t, the Jaguars won’t win. (Of course, this analysis is premised on Tom Brady playing quarterback for the Patriots. If he can’t play due to that hand injury, or if he’s clearly impaired, the Jaguars could end up with the ticket to Minnesota.)

Florio’s pick: Patriots 24, Jaguars 16.


Vikings at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Vikings’ defense had a late-game letdown that nearly cost them the game against the Saints, and it all happened after safety Andrew Sendejo suffered a concussion. Sendejo appears ready to go for Sunday, which should boost a good Minnesota defense. On the other side of the ball, I think Case Keenum will keep playing good football as he has all year, and he’ll lead Minnesota to a Super Bowl on its home field.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take: Flip a coin, throw a dart, light a match. I’ve gone back and forth on this one all week. At the end of Friday’s PFT Live, I had to finally pick a winner. I blurted out the Eagles. It could be a mistake (hardly my first), but home-field advantage is the difference in this one. If the game were being played in Minnesota, the Vikings would win easily; in Philly, it’s going to be a close, grind-it-out game that eventually wears down Minnesota’s defense and offensive line, allowing the Eagles to make that one key play needed to win the game. The best hope for the Vikings? Come out of the gates hot, pressuring (and demoralizing) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and establishing a double-digit lead, which the Vikings have down many times this year (10 games saw the Vikings build leads of 16 points or more). Quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Drew Brees were able to carve into those margins. Nick Foles wouldn’t be, if it comes to that. Based on 45 years of following the NFL closely (old), and witnessing the Vikings coming up short in a big spot again and again and again, the home team gets the edge — and the Eagles secure the right to lose in the Super Bowl. Unless they can get the Super Bowl moved to Philadelphia.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 16, Vikings 13.

PFT’s divisional round picks

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It’s the divisional round, and I’m closing in on a knockout blow to MDS. Which would be a good thing, given that he knocked me out, curbed stomped me, stuffed me in a sack, and threw me in the river during the regular-season contest.

Last week, my faith in the Falcons delivered a one-game edge, with MDS getting half the games right and yours truly nailing three of four.

This week, MDS once again doubts the Falcons. I don’t. Come Saturday night, I’ll have a two-game lead and I’ll be making plans for cramming him into the meat grinder at Satriale’s.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

Falcons at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles are the first No. 1 seed ever to be the underdog against a No. 6 seed in the NFL playoffs, and it’s easy to see why: Carson Wentz is out, and Philadelphia will live or die with Nick Foles at quarterback. Against Matt Ryan, who typically plays very well in the postseason, most people are picking Atlanta. I’m not. I think the Eagles are a better all-around team than people are giving them credit for, and they can win without Wentz.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 17, Falcons 14.

Florio’s take: The sixth-seeded Falcons are favored, and for good reason. They have their MVP-caliber franchise quarterback, and the Eagles don’t. Can the Eagles parlay the disrespect card into the kind of effort that will carry the No. 1 seed to what would be an upset? Maybe. To aid the effort, I’ll pick the Falcons to win.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Eagles 17.


Titans at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots are two-touchdown favorites, and that sounds about right to me. The Titans deserve credit for coming together in the second half in Kansas City, and I do think Derrick Henry could have a big game against New England’s defense, but the Titans just won’t have enough to keep this one close. Tom Brady will play in his 35th postseason game, and it will be a big one.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 35, Titans 20.

Florio’s take: A team with a mobile quarterback and a nothing-to-lose mindset invades Foxboro with a highly unlikely final-four berth on the line. Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry could give the Patriots fit, and maybe it won’t be a blowout. But the Patriots have the skill, the coaching, the experience, and the motivation to finish the job, again.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Titans 20.


Jaguars at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Jaguars blew out the Steelers when these teams met in the regular season, and I’m tempted to pick Jacksonville to win again in Pittsburgh on Sunday. But I just don’t trust Blake Bortles to throw the ball well enough to put many points on the board, and I think Pittsburgh will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 12, Jaguars 9.

Florio’s take: Allow me to retract my prediction that the Steelers will lose in the divisional round, based on coach Mike Tomlin’s willingness to peek ahead to a rematch with the Patriots. A rematch with the Jaguars will get the home team to focus on avoiding a second embarrassment at Heinz Field. The only glitch is the possibility that the Steelers will sell out to stop the run and Blake Bortles will make like Tim Tebow in early 2012 and find a way to complete enough passes and score enough points to beat the Steelers.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 24, Jaguars 13.


Saints at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings have the best chance of playing a home Super Bowl that any team has ever had. I think they’ll get one step closer on Sunday when they beat the Saints and punch their ticket to the NFC Championship Game. Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense are firing on all cylinders, but the Vikings’ defense matches up well with New Orleans, and I’m expecting a big game from Case Keenum as Minnesota wins.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Saints 21.

Florio’s take: Both teams are far different than they were in Week One, and both are better than they were on the first Monday night of the season. The Vikings are arguably the most balanced team in the NFL, and it will be louder than anything the Saints have experienced on the road in the postseason, probably even louder than the Beastquake game of early 2011. Minnesota advances, setting up the team’s latest chance to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1976.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 31, Saints 20.

PFT’s 2017 awards

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The official NFL awards for the 2017 season will be unveiled the night before the Super Bowl, long after the point at which anyone cares. When it comes to the official PFT awards, no one cares right now.

So why wait?

As always, I seek input from the full PFT staff. As always, blame them if you don’t like the decisions reflected below.

By the way, we’ve added a few categories this year. Which gives you a few more things to not care about.

Offensive rookie of the year: Saints running back Alvin Kamara. (Runners-up: Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.)

Defensive rookie of the year: Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. (Runners-up: Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.)

Special-teams rookie of the year: Eagles kicker Jake Elliott. (Runners-up: Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, Bears running back Tarik Cohen.)

Offensive player of the year: Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. (Runners-up: Rams running back Todd Gurley, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.)

Defensive player of the year: Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. (Runners-up: Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell, Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones.)

Special-teams player of the year: Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein. (Runners-up: Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, Rams punter Johnny Hekker.)

Assistant coach of the year: Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. (Runners-up: Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Rams special-teams coordinator John Fassel.)

Coach of the year: Rams coach Sean McVay. (Runner-up: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, Patriots coach Bill Belichick.)

Comeback player of the year: Chargers receiver Keenan Allen. (Runners-up: Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, Rams running back Todd Gurley.)

Executive of the year: Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis/assistant G.M. Jeff Ireland. (Runners-up: Eagles executive V.P. of football operations Howie Roseman, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman.)

MVP: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (Runners-up: Rams running back Todd Gurley, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.)

And that’s it. Thank you and good night.

AP announces 2017 All-Pro teams

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The Associated Press has announced this year’s selections for their All-Pro team and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was the easiest selection for the voters.

Brown was this year’s only unanimous selection to the first team. It is the fourth straight year that Brown, who had 101 catches for 1,533 yards and nine touchdowns, has made the first team and he also has one second team selection.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was also voted to the first team, earning him $2.5 million in contract incentives. Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell‘s strong season was recognized by selection to the first team as an edge rusher and the second team as an interior lineman. Rams wide receiver Pharoh Cooper also made both teams for his work as a kickoff and punt returner while Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes was  voted to the first team as a corner and the second team as a defensive back.

Two rookies were selected to the first team on the basis of their special teams work. Jamal Agnew of the Lions is the punt returner and Cardinals safety Budda Baker was chosen as the top special teams player. Saints running back Alvin Kamara made the second team offense.

The entire first and second teams are below:

First Team Offense

Quarterback – Tom Brady, Patriots

Running Back – Todd Gurley, Rams

Flex – Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

Tight End – Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

Wide Receivers – Antonio Brown, Steelers; DeAndre Hopkins, Texans

Left Tackle – Andrew Whitworth, Rams

Right Tackle – Lane Johnson, Eagles

Left Guard – Andrew Norwell, Panthers

Right Guard – David DeCastro, Steelers

Center – Jason Kelce, Eagles

First Team Defense

Edge Rushers – Calais Campbell, Jaguars; Cameron Jordan, Saints

Interior Linemen – Aaron Donald, Rams; Cam Heyward, Steelers

Linebackers – Chandler Jones, Cardinals; Luke Kuechly, Panthers; Bobby Wagner, Seahawks

Cornerbacks – Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars; Xavier Rhodes, Vikings

Safeties – Kevin Byard, Titans; Harrison Smith, Vikings

Defensive Back – Darius Slay, Lions

First Team Special Teams

Punter – Johnny Hekker, Rams

Kicker – Greg Zuerlein, Rams

Kick Returner – Pharoh Cooper, Rams

Returner – Jamal Agnew, Lions

Special Teamer – Budda Baker, Cardinals

Second Team Offense

Quarterback – Carson Wentz, Eagles

Running Back – Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

Flex – Alvin Kamara, Saints

Tight End – Travis Kelce, Chiefs

Wide Receivers – Julio Jones, Falcons; Adam Thielen, Vikings

Left Tackle – David Bakhtiari, Packers

Right Tackle – Mitchell Schwartz, Chiefs, and Daryl Williams, Panthers

Left Guard – Rodger Saffold, Rams

Right Guard – Zach Martin, Cowboys

Center – Alex Mack, Falcons

Second Team Defense

Edge Rushers – Everson Griffen, Vikings; DeMarcus Lawrence, Cowboys

Interior Linemen – Fletcher Cox, Eagles; Calais Campbell, Jaguars

Linebackers – Von Miller, Broncos; C.J. Mosley, Ravens; Telvin Smith, Jaguars

Cornerbacks – Casey Hayward, Chargers; A. J. Bouye, Jaguars

Safeties – Earl Thomas, Seahawks; Micah Hyde, Bills

Defensive Back – Xavier Rhodes, Vikings

Second Team Special Teams

Punter – Brett Kern, Titans

Placekicker – Justin Tucker, Ravens

Kick Returner – Tyler Lockett, Seahawks

Punt Returner – Pharoh Cooper, Rams

Special Teamer – Matthew Slater, Patriots

PFT’s wild card picks

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When the postseason starts, everyone’s record re-sets to 0-0. Including mine. Which is very good news.

MDS won the regular-season picks contest easily. The postseason version has only 11 games, and we’re starting from scratch.

We disagree on one game, which means one of us (probably me) will be behind by a game come Monday.

For our picks for all four games, keep reading.

Titans at Chiefs

MDS’s take: The Chiefs went through an ugly mid-season swoon, but by and large they were a good team this year. The Titans, on the other hand, got into the playoffs more because the AFC was weak than because they were really the kind of team we think of as playoff-caliber. On Saturday in Kansas City, I have a hard time seeing Tennessee pulling off an upset.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 28, Titans 14.

Florio’s take: The Chiefs have rediscovered their offense. The Titans in many ways are still trying to find theirs. Arrowhead Stadium provides a home-field advantage that should deliver more wins than it does; it will help deliver one on Saturday.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Titans 17.


Falcons at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams have been perhaps the most fun team in the league this year, with exciting young players on offense and defense, not to mention an exciting young coach. It’s a shame that they still haven’t really caught on in Los Angeles, but maybe a playoff win will do the trick. They should win this game handily, as they’re a better team than the Falcons on offense, defense and special teams.

MDS’s pick: Rams 32, Falcons 21.

Florio’s take: The Rams are believed to have wanted to slide to No. 4 on the playoff tree, so that they’d face the Panthers instead of the Falcons this weekend. It didn’t work out that way. The Rams may be the best team playing this weekend, but they also may be the home team most vulnerable to losing. If the Falcons can hold a fourth-quarter lead.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Rams 23.


Bills at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Bills and Jaguars were the only two teams in the league that didn’t pass the ball more than they ran it in 2017. (Buffalo had 487 runs and 476 passes, Jacksonville had 527 runs and 527 passes.) So I expect a run-heavy ballgame, probably low scoring and possibly determined by a defensive or special teams touchdown. The Jaguars’ defense should be able to hold the Bills in check, especially with LeSean McCoy injured, and Jacksonville should take this one.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 16, Bills 7.

Florio’s take: If the “good” Jaguars show up, this should be a laugher. If the “bad” Jaguars arrive at EverBank Field, the Bills could be securing a third game against the Patriots. But Jacksonville has one thing Buffalo doesn’t — Tom Coughlin. And Coughlin will make sure that everyone knows what it takes to have success in January.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 24, Bills 14.


Panthers at Saints

MDS’s take: This should be the weekend’s best game. Cam Newton has been up-and-down this year, but I have a feeling he’s going to be up for his first postseason game since Super Bowl 50. However, I love the potential of the Saints’ offense to put up a lot of points on the Panthers’ defense, and I’ll pick New Orleans to pull out a close win at home.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Panthers 27.

Florio’s take: The cliché that it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same year doesn’t really apply as strongly as many believe. It definitely doesn’t apply to this current rivalry, where the Saints know how to build and hold leads against a Carolina team that is one of the best in the conference, but not good enough to win in the Superdome.

Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Panthers 21.

2018 NFL coach and G.M. changes tracker

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It’s a new year and that means it is time for several NFL teams to find new coaches and/or General Managers to run the show in 2018.

We’ll track all of the interview requests, interviews and hires here until all positions are filled around the league.

Houston Texans

Announced General Manager Rick Smith is taking a leave of absence while wife battles breast cancer. Team is expected to hire a G.M. and reportedly interested in Patriots exec Nick Caserio and Bills exec Brian Gaine. Granted permission to interview Gaine. Added Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas and Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay to their interview list. Scheduled interivew with Brian Gutekunst on January 6. Reportedly denied permission to interview Douglas, Caserio and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort. Interviewed their vice president of player personnel/assistant G.M. Jimmy Raye III on January 8. Set to interview Gaine on January 10. Hired Gaine.

Indianapolis Colts

Fired head coach Chuck Pagano after the final game of the season. Reportedly interested in interviewing Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy and Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub. Requested interview with Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Received permission to interview Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. Requested permission to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard. Interviewed Vrabel on January 6. Set to interview Nagy on January 7. Scheduled to interview Wilks on January 11. Expected to hire McDaniels when Patriots season ends.

Oakland Raiders

Fired head coach Jack Del Rio after final game of the season. Linked to former head coach Jon Gruden, who will remain in his current job at ESPN for Wild Card weekend. Signing Gruden to a reported 10-year, $100 million deal.

Tennessee Titans

Parted ways with head coach Mike Mularkey after playoff loss to the Patriots. Requested interview with Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. Interviewed Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Vrabel on January 18. Interviewed Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur on January 19.

Arizona Cardinals

Head coach Bruce Arians retired on January 1 after five seasons with the team. Requested interviews with Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Requested permission to interview Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores. Requested permission to interview Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Set for interview with DeFilippo during Wild Card weekend. They’re going to interview current defensive coordinator James Bettcher first, and plan to talk to Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong. Set for interview with Shurmur on January 4. Interviewed Patricia on January 6. Interviewed Flores on January 6. Scheduled to interview Wilks on January 10. Munchak reportedly declined a second interview. Reportedly interested in a second interview with DeFilippo. Reportedly set for second interview with Armstrong on January 19. Had second interview with Wilks on January 19.

Chicago Bears

Fired head coach John Fox on January 1 after three seasons with the team. They’ve set up an interview with Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo for later this week. Requested permission to interview Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Set for interview with DeFilippo during Wild Card weekend. Requested interview with Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. Expected to interview Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards. Set for interview with Shurmur on January 5. Interviewed defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on January 3. Interviewed McDaniels on January 5. Interviewed DeFilippo on January 6. Set to interview Nagy on January 7. Hired Nagy on January 8.

Detroit Lions

Fired head coach Jim Caldwell on January 1 after four seasons with the team. Requested interviews with Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Requested interviews with Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Expected to interview current defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on January 2. Requested permission to interview Packers assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss. Set to interview Vrabel on January 3. Completed interviews with Austin and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter on January 2. Set for interview with Shurmur on January 4. Interviewed Moss on January 4. Interviewed Patricia on January 5. Expected to hire Patricia when the Patriots season ends.

Green Bay Packers

General Manager Ted Thompson is moving to another role in the organization. Interviewed their director of football operations Eliot Wolf on January 4. Interviewed director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst on January 5. Reportedly denied permission to interview Vikings assistant G.M. George Paton. Would like to interview Ravens assistant G.M. Eric DeCosta. Hired Gutekunst as General Manager on January 7.

New York Giants

Fired head coach Ben McAdoo and General Manger Jerry Reese with four games left in 2017 season. Hired Dave Gettleman as General Manager before final game. Requested interviews with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Requested interview with Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Reportedly requested permission to interview Eric Studesville before Broncos fired him as their assistant head coach/running backs coach. Studesville is set to interview on January 5. Set for interview with Shurmur on January 6. Interviewed Patricia on January 5. Interviewed McDaniels on January 5. Interviewed Wilks on January 9. Rescheduled interview with Studesville for January 10 due to weather. Expected to hire Shurmur when Vikings season ends.

Bills went from tanking talk to the playoffs, and other Week 17 thoughts

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In August, the Bills were fighting off accusations that they were tanking on the season. On Sunday, the Bills will play their first playoff game in the 21st Century.

Buffalo won on Sunday, and got some help in the form of Baltimore losing, and so the NFL’s longest playoff drought is over. But not many people expected them to be here. Or anywhere close to here. Many assumed the Bills were actually trying to lose in 2017 because they thought they had no hope this season and wanted to build a better team in the future with higher draft picks.

The tanking talk heated up when the Bills traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby, getting a bounty of 2018 draft picks in the process. That led to people saying new G.M. Brandon Beane and new coach Sean McDermott didn’t even want to win in 2017, instead prioritizing winning in the future. Beane lashed out at that.

I was very annoyed,” Beane said of first hearing talk that the Bills are tanking, in an August appearance on PFT Live. “We’re going to compete our tails off for 2017.”

Beane was right and the people who accused him of throwing the season away were wrong. The Bills played to win this season and earned their postseason berth. That they did so while also making some trades that put the Bills in good position to improve the roster in the 2018 draft is a bonus.

NFL teams shouldn’t tank. Competition is the very essence of the league, and if teams aren’t competing to win, they’re violating the fundamental principles of sport. The Bills earning a playoff berth is a powerful statement that you can build for the future and also win in the present.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Jimmy Garoppolo goes 5-0. The 49ers were 1-10 when Jimmy Garoppolo became their starting quarterback. The 49ers finished the season 6-10 yesterday after Garoppolo led them to five consecutive wins down the stretch. San Francisco has its quarterback of the future. Now the 49ers should get him locked up to a long-term contract, even if they have to pay him a fortune to do it. Garoppolo has only seven career starts (two with New England last year and five in San Francisco this year) but he might get the most lucrative contract in NFL history.

Jeff Triplette can’t control a game. I’m sure Triplette, the longtime NFL referee, is a perfectly fine fellow. But he just shouldn’t be an NFL ref. He routinely loses control of the games he’s working. After a fight broke out in the Bills-Dolphins game, Triplette and his crew took about 10 minutes to get everything sorted out and get the game going. As Triplette was calling all the penalties, he called the numbers of two players who weren’t on the field. Then he called the number of a Dolphins player who doesn’t exist (Triplette called No. 24, and the Dolphins don’t have a 24 on their team). Triplette routinely makes mistakes that an NFL referee shouldn’t make.

Playoff spots are determined by inches. In September, Lions receiver Golden Tate appeared to score a game-winning touchdown on the final play of a game against the Falcons. But instant replay overturned the call, ruling that Tate’s knee had touched the ground with the ball just inches shy of the goal line. Now the 10-6 Falcons are in the playoffs, and the 9-7 Lions are out. If the Lions had won that game, they’d be 10-6 and in, and the Falcons would be 9-7 and out. That’s how close the difference between success and failure is in the NFL.

Blake Countess should be suspended. Countess, the Rams’ cornerback who laid a vicious hit to the head of 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin on Sunday, should be suspended for Saturday’s playoff game against the Falcons. The NFL needs to send a message that hits to the head like that won’t be tolerated, and forcing a player to sit out a playoff game might get that message out.

James Harrison will make a difference in the playoffs. The Patriots added Harrison, the longtime Steelers pass rusher, just in time to see him record two sacks in Sunday’s finale. I have a feeling he’s going to prove himself to be a difference-maker in the postseason. Especially if he takes on his former team in the AFC Championship Game.

The Vikings might not leave Minnesota. No team has ever played a Super Bowl on its home field, but the Vikings have the best chance any team has ever had. Minnesota is the No. 2 seed in the NFC, meaning it will play a home divisional round game, and the only reason the Vikings can leave Minnesota is if they travel to Philadelphia for the NFC Championship Game. And with the Eagles playing without the injured Carson Wentz, that’s looking unlikely. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings win two home playoff games, and then get to play in the Super Bowl at home as well.

The Giants and Colts didn’t tank, either. Heading into Sunday’s games the Browns had already clinched the first overall pick in the draft, but the second pick was down to the Giants or Colts. If they wanted to improve their draft stock, both teams should have been playing to lose. Instead, both teams won. Like the Bills, the Giants and Colts didn’t tank. NFL teams should play to win, and it’s to the credit of the Giants and Colts that they did.

Week 17 early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available 90 minutes ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Packers at Lions

Packers: WR Davante Adams, CB Damarious Randall, RB Aaron Jones, G Jahri Evans, TE Richard Rodgers, WR Jordy Nelson, LB Chris Odom

Lions: CB Nevin Lawson, TE Michael Roberts, RB Zach Zenner, RB Dwayne Washington, T Brian Mahalik, WR Jace Billingsley, DT Rodney Coe

Texans at Colts

Texans: QB Josh Johnson, WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR DeAndrew White, RB Jordan Todman, LB LaTroy Lewis, T Kendall Lamm, G Jeff Allen

Colts: QB Brad Kaaya, WR Donte Moncrief, T Denzelle Good, DL Caraun Reid, OL Mark Glowinski, DT Jonathan Hankins, TE Jason Vander Laan

Bears at Vikings

Bears: DL Rashaad Coward, QB Mark Sanchez, TE Adam Shaheen, G Josh Sitton, RB Taquan Mizzell, T Bobby Massie, DB Deiondre' Hall

Vikings: QB Kyle Sloter, WR Stacy Coley, CB Tramaine Brock, RB Mack Brown, C Pat Elflein, DE Tashawn Bower, DT Shamar Stephen

Jets at Patriots

Jets: CB Rashard Robinson, LB Freddie Bishop, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, T Brandon Shell, DT Deon Simon, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, WR Lucky Whitehead

Patriots: LB David Harris, OL Cole Croston, RB James White, WR Chris Hogan, RB Mike Gillislee, RB Rex Burkhead, DT Alan Branch

Redskins at Giants

Redskins: WR Robert Davis, S DeAngelo Hall, LB Ryan Anderson, LB Zach Brown, G Kyle Kalis, C Demetrius Rhaney, DL Ziggy Hood

Giants: WR Sterling Shepard, TE Evan Engram, QB Geno Smith, DE Avery Moss, LB Akeem Ayers, G Damien Mama, T Ereck Flowers

Cowboys at Eagles

Cowboys: WR Cole Beasley, RB Rod Smith, TE Blake Jarwin, DE Benson Mayowa, DL David Irving, LB Tre'von Johnson, OL Kadeem Edwards

Eagles: RB Jay Ajayi, DE Derek Barnett, LB Nigel Bradham, DE Brandon Graham, DT Timmy Jernigan, S Rodney McLeod, CB Jalen Mills

Browns at Steelers

Browns: QB Cody Kessler, FB Dan Vitale, LB Jeremy Cash, OL Marcus Martin, OL Geoff Gray, WR Matt Hazel, TE Matt Lengel

Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger, CB Coty Sensabaugh, RB Le'Veon Bell, C Maurkice Pouncey, G David DeCastro, WR Antonio Brown, DE Cameron Heyward

Friday’s coaching news brings hot seats into better focus

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With three teams making it known on Friday that their coaches won’t be getting fired after the last game of the season, the list of hot spots is shrinking. But they’re also becoming more glaring, since it would have been easy for other teams to say that they won’t be firing their coaches before Week 17.

So with Washington reportedly keeping Jay Gruden and the Jets extending Todd Bowles and the Bucs telling Dirk Koetter he won’t be supplanted by Jon Gruden (for now), other guys are left to wonder whether they’ll be leading their teams into action for the last time.

Here’s a list of the coaches who remain on the hot seat, with no eleventh-hour effort to give them a reprieve.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis: His contract expires after Week 17. Though he has addressed his future status and plans several times, the Bengals haven’t said a word about whether they want him back.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano: He delivered what was interpreted by some to be a farewell address this week. Ownership has said or done nothing to contradict the widespread belief that Pagano will be out after six years.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien: O’Brien has said he’s not quitting, but the Texans haven’t said they aren’t firing him. There’s a belief that O’Brien will be back without an extension on a contract with one year remaining, as each side waits for the other side to be the one to end a relationship that remains dysfunctional.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey: Some believe that a failure to make it to the playoffs means he won’t be back. The Titans have said nothing to push back against this possibility.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio: Believed as of a week ago to be a 50-50 shot at sticking around, owner Mark Davis has not declared that Del Rio definitely will return in 2018.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph: Eight double-digit losses and four losses by 20 or more points could mean that Joseph will be one and done in Denver. G.M. John Elway has said he’ll wait until after the season before making any final decisions. A day before the finale, Joseph’s fate already may be sealed.

Bears coach John Fox: If Fox weren’t out after three disappointing seasons on the job, someone with the Bears surely would have said so by now.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell: Ownership and G.M. Bob Quinn declined to comment on Caldwell’s status after last week’s postseason-killing loss to the Bengals. Their silence since then has become even more deafening.

Not on this list is Browns coach Hue Jackson, because ownership has said publicly and privately that Jackson will be back. However, a loss on Sunday means an 0-16 season. Which could make it even easier for new G.M. John Dorsey to make a case for change.

That leaves the current list of potential new members of the FFCA at nine. With an asterisk for the surprise firing/resignation/retirement that always seems to happen.

Week 17 injury report roundup

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The final weekend of the 2017 regular season is here and that means all 32 teams will be playing on Sunday for the only time this year. All 32 of those teams submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered healthy enough to play barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

Packers at Lions

WR Davante Adams (concussion), G Jahri Evans (knee), RB Aaron Jones (knee), WR Jordy Nelson (shoulder), LB Nick Perry (ankle, shoulder) and TE Richard Rodgers (shoulder) will all miss the finale for the Packers. WR Geronimo Allison (illness), T Ulrick John (back), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring) and CB Damarious Randall (knee) are questionable to play.

Lions CB Nevin Lawson (concussion) has been ruled out and DE Anthony Zettel (groin) is questionable.

Texans at Colts

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (calf) will miss his first game since entering the NFL. G Jeff Allen (concussion) and RB Jordan Todman (shoulder) are also out. T Kendall Lamm (concussion) and LB LaTroy Lewis (shoulder) are questionable for Sunday.

T Denzelle Good (knee), DT Johnathan Hankins (ankle) and TE Jason Vander Laan (concussion) are out for the Colts. WR Donte Moncrief (ankle) is listed as questionable.

Bears at Vikings

The Bears head to Minnesota with T Bobby Massie (knee) and G Josh Sitton (ankle) likely to miss the game after drawing doubtful tags. S DeAndre Houston-Carson (back) and TE Adam Shaheen (chest) are questionable for the game.

The Vikings ruled out CB Tramaine Brock (foot), C Pat Elflein (shoulder), LS Kevin McDermott (shoulder) and DT Shamar Stephen (ankle) for Sunday’s game.

Jets at Patriots

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ribs, foot) has had a nice rebound season for the Jets, but is unlikely to play in the finale after being listed as doubtful. T Brandon Shell (concussion) is out and the team listed DE Kony Ealy (knee), RB Matt Forte (knee) and RB Akeem Judd (ankle) as questionable.

Patriots DT Alan Branch (knee), RB Rex Burkhead (knee) and RB Mike Gillislee (knee) have been ruled out after missing practice all week. WR Chris Hogan (shoulder), DE Eric Lee (ankle, finger), S Devin McCourty (shoulder), WR Matt Slater (hamstring), LB Kyle Van Noy (calf), T LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and RB James White (ankle) are all listed as questionable.

Redskins at Giants

The Redskins ruled out LB Ryan Anderson (knee), LB Zach Brown (knee, illness, Achilles) and DL Ziggy Hood (elbow). Wide receivers Robert Davis (concussion) and Maurice Harris (back); linebackers Martrell Speight (illness, ankle) and Ryan Kerrigan (calf); G Kyle Kalis (ankle, back) and DL Terrell McClain (toe) are considered questionable to play.

Eli Manning will be short on receivers once again on Sunday. WR Sterling Shepard (neck), TE Evan Engram (rib) and WR Tavarres King (concussion) have all been ruled out for the finale. Tackles Ereck Flowers (groin) and Bobby Hart (ankle) are listed as questionable along with DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger, back, ankle).

Cowboys at Eagles

The Cowboys ruled out DL David Irving (concussion) and DE Benson Mayowa (back). DT Richard Ash (shoulder), WR Cole Beasley (illness) and T La'el Collins (back) are listed as questionable.

The Eagles aren’t resting starters, but DE Brandon Graham (ankle) has been ruled out. CB Jalen Mills (ankle) is questionable to play for the NFC East champs.

Browns at Steelers

RB Dan Vitale (groin) will not be in the Browns lineup as they try to avoid an 0-16 season. CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee, not injury related), RB Matthew Dayes (knee), S Derron Smith (hip) and CB Jamar Taylor (foot) are all questionable to play.

The Steelers ruled out WR Antonio Brown (calf) and listed C Maurkice Pouncey (hip) as questionable. Word from Pittsburgh is that neither QB Ben Roethlisberger nor RB Le'Veon Bell will play as they rest for the playoffs.

Panthers at Falcons

The Panthers listed S Kurt Coleman (ankle), CB Ladarius Gunter (illness) and G Trai Turner (concussion) as they make their final bid for the NFC South title.

TE Levine Toilolo (knee) was ruled out by the Falcons and C Alex Mack (calf) is questionable after getting hurt in practice this week.

Bengals at Ravens

Bengals T Cedric Ogbuehi (shoulder) has been ruled out and LB Vontaze Burfict (shoulder) is set to miss the game after being listed as doubtful. CB William Jackson (knee) and RB Joe Mixon (ankle) are both listed as questionable.

The Ravens expect to be without WR Jeremy Maclin (knee) again this week as he was tagged as doubtful. G Jermaine Eluemunor (shoulder), T Austin Howard (knee), DT Patrick Ricard (neck), WR Mike Wallace (knee) and DT Brandon Williams (back) are more likely to play after getting listed as questionable.

Bills at Dolphins

CB Shareece Wright (concussion) is out and won’t be able to help the Bills make a push for a playoff spot. G Ryan Groy (illness) and WR Deonte Thompson (shoulder, back) are questionable to be in the lineup.

The Dolphins close out the year with a lengthy injury list. QB Matt Moore (foot), RB Damien Williams (shoulder) and tackle Laremy Tunsil (ankle) drew doubtful tags for Sunday. TE MarQueis Gray (hip), DE Charles Harris (thigh), LB Neville Hewitt (hamstring), S T.J. McDonald (shoulder), WR DeVante Parker (ankle), S Michael Thomas (not injury related), CB Alterraun Verner (hamstring) and DE Cameron Wake (illness) were all deemed questionable to play.

Saints at Buccaneers

The Saints will try to nail down the NFC South without T Terron Armstead (thigh), DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle) and TE Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion).

DE Robert Ayers (shoulder) and LB Devante Bond (ankle) are doubtful to play in the final Buccaneers game of the year. TE Cameron Brate (hip, knee), WR Chris Godwin (ankle), WR DeSean Jackson (ankle) and DE Ryan Russell (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

Jaguars at Titans

WR Marqise Lee (ankle) will miss another game for the Jaguars. LB Blair Brown (concussion), DT Abry Jones (back) and T Cam Robinson (abdomen) are listed as questionable.

The Titans ruled RB DeMarco Murray (knee) out on Friday, but they hope to have CB Logan Ryan (ankle) after listing him as questionable.

Chiefs at Broncos

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (not injury related) was ruled out on Friday due to a death in the family. The Chiefs are resting QB Alex Smith, so Hill may not have played much anyway. DT Bennie Logan (knee) is doubtful while CB Kenneth Acker (illness), T Cameron Erving (illness), LB Tamba Hali (knee), RB Akeem Hunt (shoulder), DE Rakeem Nunez-Roches (illness), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) and RB Charcandrick West (illness) are all listed as questionable.

The Broncos ruled out DE Zach Kerr (ankle), WR Cody Latimer (thigh) and WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle). T Donald Stephenson (hand) is considered questionable.

Raiders at Chargers

Raiders DT Treyvon Hester (ankle) has been ruled out and T Vadal Alexander (concussion) is doubtful to play. CB David Amerson (foot), CB Dexter McDonald (knee) and T David Sharpe (illness) make up Oakland’s final questionable contingent of the year.

The Chargers ruled out S Adrian Phillips (ankle), but hope to have RB Melvin Gordon (ankle), DT Corey Liuget (knee), T Russell Okung (groin) and LB Denzel Perryman (hamstring) help their push for a Wild Card after listing them as questionable.

49ers at Rams

Week 17 doesn’t always find players in great health, but the 49ers didn’t give any injury designations this week.

The Rams are resting a bunch of players and LB Mark Barron (Achilles) is likely to join them after getting a doubtful tag on Friday. WR Cooper Kupp (knee) is listed as questionable.

Cardinals at Seahawks

LB Josh Bynes (ankle), TE Troy Niklas (ankle), RB Elijhaa Penny (hand, groin), G Earl Watford (ankle) and RB Kerwynn Williams (quadricep, ribs, back) are questionable for the Cardinals.

The Seahawks listed LB Bobby Wagner (hamstring) as questionable for a game they have to win if they’re going to make the playoffs. LB D.J. Alexander (concussion) and DT Nazair Jones (foot) have been ruled out while G Luke Joeckel (foot) and TE Luke Willson (ankle) are also listed as questionable.

PFT’s Week 17 picks

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This one was over a few weeks back, with MDS building an insurmountable lead. Last week, we disagreed on only one game. He was right, I was wrong. MDS went 13-3, I went 12-4.

To his credit, MDS isn’t resting his starters for a meaningless week of action.

We disagree on three games. For the full slate of predictions, you know what to do.

Washington at Giants

MDS’s take: It’s a meaningless game, although Kirk Cousins and Eli Manning will both be motivated to have a good performance heading into a big offseason for both of them. I see Cousins’ team having the better day.

MDS’s pick: Washington 27, Giants 20.

Florio’s take: A disappointing season ends for a pair of teams that had postseason aspirations. Now, one team will be hiring a new coach — and the other one could be doing the same.

Florio’s pick: Washington 24, Giants 20.


Jets at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots aren’t losing to the Bryce Petty-led Jets with home-field advantage on the line.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 33, Jets 17.

Florio’s take: The Patriots know the perils of stumbling in a late-season game against a division rival. It cost them the No. 1 seed two years ago. It won’t happen again.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Jets 10.


Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: Minnesota clinches a first-round bye in what is likely John Fox’s last game as the Bears’ coach.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Bears 10.

Florio’s take: Win or lose, the Vikings seem to be locked in to the No. 2 seed. Which means that if the Eagles lose in the divisional round, the Vikings could be hosting the NFC title game.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, Bears 10.


Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: Both teams are out of playoff contention, but the Lions should shut down Brett Hundley and complete the season sweep of the Packers.

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Packers 9.

Florio’s take: A lost season for both teams; one coach likely will lose his job. There’s an outside chance that both will.

Florio’s pick: Lions 20, Packers 13.


Texans at Colts

MDS’s take: The Texans would probably be in the playoffs if Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt had stayed healthy. Instead they’re going to end up with a Top 5 pick — which they traded to the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Texans 17.

Florio’s take: Two teams that were supposed to square off for the division title are battling for the basement.

Florio’s pick: Colts 16, Texans 13.


Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Browns want to avoid 0-16, but unless the Steelers decide to rest their starters on the theory that they won’t catch the Patriots for home-field advantage, Cleveland is going winless.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 27, Browns 17.

Florio’s take: The season started with the Steelers handing Cleveland their first loss. It ends with the perfect bookend. And by “perfect,” I mean “nightmarish.”

Florio’s pick: Steelers 24, Browns 9.


Cowboys at Eagles

MDS’s take: Neither team has anything to play for, as the Eagles have clinched home-field advantage while the Cowboys are out of contention. I think the Eagles will rest starters while the Cowboys play to win.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take: Has a game between these two rivals ever been less meaningful?

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 20, Eagles 17.


49ers at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams don’t have much to play for, as they’re locked into either the No. 3 or No. 4 team in the NFC. The 49ers have nothing to play for, but that hasn’t stopped them from looking like one of the best teams in the league since Jimmy Garoppolo became the starter. I would have picked the 49ers even if the Rams were trying to win, but with Sean McVay confirming he’ll bench his best players, I think the 49ers should easily finish on a five-game winning streak.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Rams 20.

Florio’s take: The Rams will be resting some starters, and the 49ers are trying to finish with a flourish.

Florio’s pick: 49ers 27, Rams 17.


Raiders at Chargers

MDS’s take: After their 0-4 start, not many people thought the Chargers would still be in contention in Week 17. They need help to make the playoffs, but they’ll do their part against the Raiders.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 24, Raiders 14.

Florio’s take: The Raiders are limping to their new home away from home; how many Oakland fans will show up at Black Hole South? And will it matter?

Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Raiders 21.


Chiefs at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Chiefs are locked into the AFC No. 4 seed and will have nothing to play for, but if Paxton Lynch is the Broncos’ starter I just don’t see them winning even against a team taht isn’t trying.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 20, Broncos 13.

Florio’s take: Why should anyone in Denver show up for a meaningless game? To get a glimpse of what could be the meaningful future of the quarterback position in Kansas City, via the debut of Patrick Mahomes.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Broncos 14.


Jaguars at Titans

MDS’s take: The Titans are fighting for their playoff lives, so they’ll come in hungry and beat a Jaguars team that they may face in a playoff rematch.

MDS’s pick: Titans 28, Jaguars 24.

Florio’s take: Think the Jaguars are playing for nothing? Think again. They don’t want the Titans rolling into Jacksonville next weekend, and the best way to prevent that is to knock them out, now.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 24, Titans 17.


Saints at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: New Orleans should put up a big game to clinch the NFC South. This one won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 10.

Florio’s take: The Bucs are falling apart, and the Saints are putting it all together.

Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Buccaneers 13.


Bills at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Bills still have a shot at the playoffs, and they should be able to pull out a win against a Dolphins team with nothing to play for.

MDS’s pick: Bills 24, Dolphins 16.

Florio’s take: The Dolphins get a chance to close out the season by spoiling Buffalo’s shot at ending an 18-year playoff drought.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Bills 20.


Cardinals at Seahawks

MDS’s take: It’s been a disappointing season in Seattle, but they’ll finish strong against an overmatched Cardinals team.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 30, Cardinals 20.

Florio’s take: Don’t look now, but the Seahawks may be heading for the postseason — and possibly for a rubber match against the Rams.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Cardinals 17.


Panthers at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons will sneak back in the playoffs with a close win at home.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Panthers 27.

Florio’s take: The Falcons won’t have to worry about blowing a fourth-quarter lead in the playoffs after they blow a fourth-quarter lead to the Panthers on Sunday.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Falcons 27.


Bengals at Ravens

MDS’s take: Baltimore gets the win and returns to the playoffs in Marvin Lewis’s swan song.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Bengals 13.

Florio’s take: The Ravens could make things very interesting in the AFC playoff field.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Bengals 10.

The top flaws of the 2017 playoff contenders

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There’s no clearly dominant team in the NFL this year. Which gives the playoffs a wide-open feel (until the Patriots win the Super Bowl by three or four points . . . again).

So every team that still has a chance to get to the playoffs has a chance to get to the Super Bowl. But each contender is flawed in some way.

Which flaws are the most concerning? Chris Simms and yours truly went back and forth to discuss the situation on Wednesday’s PFT Live, citing three teams and their potentially fatal flaws.

Your day would be flawed, albeit not literally fatally, if you fail to check it out.

AFC playoff picture: No. 1 seed, Wild Cards unsettled in Week 17

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There’s one regular season game left for all of the AFC’s teams and we still don’t know which six will continue playing beyond next Sunday.

The Wild Card spots will be doled out based on the results of games involving the Ravens, Titans, Bills and Chargers, which will make for plenty of intrigue when the 4:25 p.m. ET games kick off in Week 17. The other big question left unsettled after Christmas weekend is who will be the top seed in the conference.

Monday’s easy Steelers win means that they can still wind up in the No. 1 spot, although the Patriots can end those hopes with a win at Gillette Stadium.

LEADERS
1. Patriots (12-3): Beat the Jets and they won’t leave New England unless they’re going to the Super Bowl.

2. Steelers (12-3): Monday’s win clinched a first-round bye and more time for wide receiver Antonio Brown to recover.

3. Jaguars (10-5): Pittsburgh’s win ended any hopes of a bye in Jacksonville.

4. Chiefs (9-6): They are locked into the No. 4 seed, which has some wondering if Patrick Mahomes might play.

5. Ravens (9-6): There are other paths to the playoffs, but the easiest is beating the Bengals.

6. Titans (8-7): A three-game losing streak hasn’t knocked them out of playoff contention, but a fourth would likely finish the job.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Chargers (8-7): Beating the Raiders is the first part of their path to the playoffs, the Titans losing is the second part and either a Ravens win or a Bills loss would extend the Chargers season.

8. Bills (8-7): They can get in with a win and losses by the teams in front of them because they lose all tiebreakers, including a head-to-head with the Chargers thanks to their regular season loss fueled by five Nathan Peterman interceptions.

NFC playoff picture: Eagles clinch home-field advantage

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The Eagles have clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and have nothing to play for in Week 17. Six other NFC teams are still jockeying for position, with four already in the playoffs and two competing for the final postseason berth.

Here’s how the playoff picture looks with one week remaining in the regular season:

LEADERS
1. Eagles (13-2): It wasn’t pretty on Monday night, but they got the job done.

2. Vikings (12-3): Clinch a first-round bye with a win, or with losses by the Panthers and Saints.

3. Rams (11-4): With the NFC West clinched and no chance at a first-round bye, the Rams don’t have much to play for in Week 17.

4. Saints (11-4): Clinch the NFC South with a win or a Panthers loss.

5. Panthers (11-4):: Clinch the NFC South with a win and a Saints loss. Would also clinch a first-round bye with a win, a Saints loss, a Vikings loss and a Rams loss.

6. Falcons (9-6): Clinch a playoff berth with a win or a Seahawks loss.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Seahawks (9-6): Clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Falcons loss.

Week 17 playoff scenarios

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Week 16 of the 2017 season comes to an end with a pair of games on Christmas and both of them have implications for how the playoff teams will stack up in each conference.

The Steelers and Eagles both know they are in the playoffs and no teams can be eliminated from contention on Monday, but seeds will be impacted by the results. Here’s a look at all the playoff scenarios for Week 17 as announced by the NFL on Monday.

New England clinches the No. 1 seed in the AFC if the Steelers lose either of their remaining games or if they beat the Jets in Week 17. The Steelers would get homefield throughout the AFC playoffs with two wins and a Patriots loss.

If they should stumble on Monday, they can still clinch a bye in Week 17 with a win against the Browns or if the Jaguars lose to the Titans. If Jacksonville wins and Pittsburgh loses out, the Jags will be No. 2 and they can’t drop below the Chiefs into the No. 4 spot under any circumstances. There’s a bit more going on for the two Wild Card spots.

Ravens – In with a win or if both the Titans and Bills lose.

Titans – In with a win or if the Bills and Chargers also lose.

Chargers – In with a win, a Titans loss and either a Ravens win or a Bills loss.

Bills – In with a win and a Ravens loss OR with a win and losses by both the Chargers and Titans.

 

In the NFC, the Eagles are the No. 1 seed if they beat the Raiders on Monday night. They can also clinch it by beating the Cowboys in Week 17 or if the Vikings lose. The Vikings get it with a win and two Eagles losses.

The No. 2 seed would belong to Minnesota with a win over the Bears. If they, the Saints and Rams lose while the Panthers win, the Panthers would win the NFC South and take the No. 2 seed. The Rams are in there for tie-breaking purposes, but can’t earn a bye for themselves.

The Saints also can’t move up to No. 2, but they win the division with a win or a Panthers loss.

The final playoff spot comes down to the Falcons and Seahawks. It goes to Atlanta with a win or Seahawks loss while the Seahawks would take it with a win and a Falcons loss.