Five Playoff Spots Remain in NFL’s Final Week of Regular Season
It’s week 18 in the NFL, and while the number of teams eliminated from playoff contention is up to 12, 11 teams are still possibilities for the final five spots. Twelve of the 16 games this weekend have playoff implications, making it a great final weekend of NFL betting.
AFC Playoff Teams
The AFC North-winning Baltimore Ravens are promised the No. 1 seed in the AFC after their big win over the Dolphins in Week 17. In the other decided division, the Kansas City Chiefs have clinched their eighth consecutive AFC West title, and are now locked in to the No. 3 seed.
When the Chiefs play the Chargers on Sunday, we should see limited play from Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. BetUS.com has the Chiefs’ backups as two-point underdogs.
The Cleveland Browns have clinched the fifth seed, and they are locked into that spot. The Miami Dolphins have also clinched, and they could be either the No. 2 seed as the AFC East champions, or the sixth seed as a wild card.
AFC Clinching Scenarios
Perhaps no team has had a wilder ride this season than the Buffalo Bills. They were dead and buried at 5-5, and now they are playing a win-and-in scenario for the AFC East title and No. 2 seed. Buffalo plays Miami, and the winner gets the division. If Miami loses, they are a wild card team. If Buffalo loses, they might be a wild card team.
As the only team that actually plays in the Empire State, New York online sportsbooks should see plenty of Bills action on Sunday.
If the Bills lose, in order to get a wild card spot, they need a loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers play on Saturday, so Buffalo will know where it stands regarding that game before they play on Sunday.
For Pittsburgh to get in the playoffs, they need to win, and have Buffalo or Jacksonville lose. They also get in if Jacksonville loses and the Denver Broncos win.
In the AFC South, we have three teams tied for first place. The Jaguars are the division champs and the No. 4 seed if they win at Tennessee. If they lose, they can still be a wild card team if Pittsburgh and Denver also lose.
And if the Jags lose, then the winner of the Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts takes the AFC South and is the No. 4 seed. If Jacksonville wins, then the winner of the Texans and Colts will be a wild card team.
There are a number of brick and mortar sportsbooks in Indiana, including one just a mile away from Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Texans and Colts play on Saturday night.
NFC Playoff Teams
The San Francisco 49ers have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Right now, the Cowboys are the No. 2 seed, and they will clinch that with a win at the Washington Commanders or a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles are in the playoffs, and they can still win the NFC East with a win over the New York Giants and a Cowboys loss. But the Eagles have lost four of their last five games, and are as wounded as any team heading toward the playoffs. The Eagles have also become an unpopular bet at Pennsylvania online sportsbooks, having failed to cover the spread in five straight games.
The Detroit Lions can be no worse than the third seed. But a win over the Minnesota Vikings, plus losses by the Cowboys and Eagles, would give them the two-seed.
Bovada.lv has the Lions at +800 to win the NFC.
The Los Angeles Rams have also clinched a wild card spot, and they will be either the sixth or seventh seed when the playoffs begin. They are paying +2200 to win the NFC.
NFC Clinching Scenarios
If Dallas wins, they clinch the NFC East. If they lose, the Eagles win the division with a win. If both teams lose, the Cowboys take the division.
In the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the best position. If they win at the Carolina Panthers (BetUS.com has them as 5.5-point favorites) the Bucs are the division champs. If Tampa Bay loses, then the winner of the Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints will win the division. In that game, the Saints are 3.5-point favorites, and Louisiana brick and mortar sportsbooks should be busy on Sunday.
BetUS.com is paying -260 on the Bucs to win the NFC South. The Saints are at +350, and the Falcons are paying +700.
The Falcons can only be a playoff team as a division champion. The Saints and Bucs can also get in as a wild card if the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers lose. The Packers are a wild card team if they win, or if Seattle and the Minnesota Vikings lose. Seattle is in with a win and a Packers loss. The Vikings are in if they win, the Packers and Seahawks lose, and either the Bucs or Saints lose.