Week 17 is an interesting time every year. For some teams, this week does not truly matter and they will bench their stars for a group of backups. For others, it is an early start to the postseason. With only a week to go, today we are going to go over what is at stake for every team in the final week of NFL action.
1, New Orleans Saints (13-2; won 31-28 vs PIT) (- No change from last week)
The Saints have locked up home field advantage in the NFC playoffs and will mainly just try to stay healthy for the playoff weeks. Expect to see Teddy Bridgewater and much less of Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas.
2. Los Angeles Rams (12-3; won 31-9 vs ARI) (+3)
The Rams need a win this week to clinch a first-round bye in the NFC Playoffs, so expect the starters to play against the 49ers this weekend. While the stars may not finish the game if they blow out their lesser competition, Los Angeles still has something to play for.
3. Chicago Bears (11-4; won 14-9 vs SF) (+1)
The Bears win over the Rams a few weeks ago means that they still have a chance at a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. They will play against a Minnesota team whose entire season is on the line, so expect the stars to play almost the whole game.
4. Los Angeles Chargers (11-4; lost 22-10 vs BAL) (-2)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4; lost 38-31 vs SEA) (-2)
A win will see the Chiefs finish the season as AFC West champions once again. The Raiders at Arrowhead does not seem like much of a challenge and there is a possibility the Chiefs starters take an early rest in this game.
6. New England Patriots (10-5; won 24-12 vs BUF) (+1)
The Patriots are in prime position to sit out the first round of the AFC Playoffs. A Week 1 victory over the Texans gives them a tie breaker over the AFC South leaders. All New England has to do is defeat a Jets team they have historically dominated.
7. Houston Texans (10-5; lost 32-30 vs PHI) (-1)
Houston’s surprise season will end in a playoff berth but they still do have some business to take of this week. First, they need either a victory or a Titans loss to lock up the AFC South. If the Jets pull off an unlikely upset over the Patriots, then a win earns them a first-round bye as well.
8. Baltimore Ravens (9-6; won 22-10 vs LAC) (+2)
A late season surge by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens has them only a victory away from reclaiming the AFC North crown. Beating the Browns will win them their division. If both Houston and New England suffer upsets, then Baltimore will even have a first-round bye. A loss, though, may eliminate them from the playoffs all together.
9. Seattle Seahawks (9-6; won 38-31 vs KC) (+3)
Seattle’s stars may get a week off. The Seahawks already have locked up a wild card role but they are out of the race for the NFC West. Their main goal will be to stay healthy for the playoffs and carry some momentum into the postseason.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1; lost 31-28 vs NO) (-2)
The long-running AFC North champs may miss out on the playoffs this season. Their only path to the playoffs requires a victory over the Bengals (probable) and a Ravens loss to the Browns (not as probable). Expect Pittsburgh’s stars to go all out this week, but it may not be enough.
11. Indianapolis Colts (9-6; won 28-27 vs NYG) (-2)
Indianapolis will be featured on this NFL’s yearly Sunday Night season finale. For them, the scenario is simple. If they beat the Titans in Nashville, then they will earn an incredibly unlikely playoff berth. Lose, and a promising season ends in failure.
12. Dallas Cowboys (9-6; won 27-20 vs TB) (-1)
Dallas has already locked up the NFC East and there is no scenario where they get higher than the fourth seed in the playoffs. Expect the likes of Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper to be limited, if they play at all, but Dallas may want to get a victory to get some momentum going heading into the playoffs.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7; won 32-30 vs HOU) (+1)
The Super Bowl Champions will need some help if they want to return to the postseason. First, they need to defeat a beat up Washington team—something they should be able to do without much trouble. They will also need some help elsewhere. Minnesota, who they eliminated en route to last year’s Super Bowl, will need to lose to the Bears for the Eagles to earn a wild card spot. Philadelphia will need some help but both situations seem likely.
14. Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1; won 27-9 vs DET) (-1)
It’s win-and-in scenario for the Vikings this week. They will need to avoid getting swept by the Chicago Bears this weekend in order to earn the NFC’s final wild card spot. Unfortunately, Chicago also has a first-round bye on the line. They can also get in the Washington upsets the Eagles, though.
15. Tennessee Titans (9-6; won 25-16 vs WAS) (-)
The Titans can land anywhere between a first-round bye and missing the playoffs entirely depending on how things shake out this week. A loss against the Colts and they are eliminated. A win and they make the playoffs. If they win and the Ravens, Patriots and Texans all lose, then they will have a first-round bye throughout the playoffs. If they win and the Ravens lose they will get the third seed.
16. Cleveland Browns (7-7-1; won 26-18 vs CIN) (+1)
While Cleveland is eliminated from the playoffs, they do have something to play for this week. First, the obvious motivation to potentially eliminate their mortal rival the Baltimore Ravens from the playoffs. Secondly, and more importantly, a win this weekend will clinch a winning season. For a franchise that won one game in the previous two seasons, that will be a huge landmark for their young roster.
17. Miami Dolphins (7-8; lost 17-7 vs JAX) (-1)
A beat up Miami team is eliminated from the playoffs but they do have a chance to avoid a losing season. After starting 3-0, they quickly derailed, and finishing below .500 will be an immense disappointment. It also is Ryan Tannehill’s final audition to be the team's quarterback going forward—or for another team next season.
18. Green Bay Packers (6-8-1; won 44-38 vs NYJ) (-)
This season has been an outright failure for the Packers. Avoiding getting sweep by the Detroit Lions will be some motivation, though. It will also serve as a chance for some of the team’s younger talent to take show what they have in a pressure-less game.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9; lost 27-20 vs DAL) (+1)
Tampa Bay will probably need to change out much of their offense, defense, special teams, coaching and front office this offseason. This week does not mean much, but it is a last chance for some players to prove their worth.
20. Denver Broncos (6-9; lost 27-14 vs OAK) (-1)
The Broncos’ postseason hopes died in Week 15, but they do have a chance to decide the AFC West. A win over the Chargers denies their rival their first division title in almost a decade. The game also gives quarterback Case Keenum a chance to prove his worth going forward and gives their younger stars a chance to get game action against a good team.
21. Washington (7-8; lost 25-16 vs TEN) (-)
Washington would probably be able to try out some of their future stars in a meaningless game if they all were not either injured or released.
22. Atlanta Falcons (6-9; won 24-10 vs CAR) (+2)
The Falcons are another beat up team that will just want to escape this season without losing anyone else long term.
23. New York Giants (5-10; lost 28-27 vs IND) (+2)
New York may bench some of their stars for this week's matchup against the Cowboys but they can give their backup quarterbacks a chance to prove their worth going forward.
24. Carolina Panthers (6-9; lost 24-10 vs ATL) (-1)
Carolina does not have much to play for this week, but avoiding an eight-game losing streak would be great for their ego. If they do lose, then at least they can put this disaster of a season behind them.
25. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9; lost 26-18 vs CLE) (-3)
The Bengals are another team whose season absolutely derailed. Cincinnati, more than anything, just needs to escape this season so they can reevaluate the entire franchise going forward this offseason.
26. Buffalo Bills (5-10; lost 24-10 vs NE) (-)
Buffalo is a young, growing team. Getting Josh Allen meaningless playing time should be great for his development going forward. Their squad of UDFA receivers can get some additional playing time as well and some can prove their worth in the NFL.
27. Detroit Lions (5-10; lost 27-9 vs MIN) (+1)
A Lions season that can be classified as a disaster can end with a season sweep over the Green Bay Packers and only the franchise’s third win is Wisconsin since 1991. It will not change much, but it would be a good way to cap off a bad rookie season for Matt Patricia.
28. New York Jets (4-11; lost 44-38 vs GB) (-1)
This New York Jets’ season was always going to be a developmental year and nothing about that changes in Week 17. Get the young stars some playing time and get Sam Darnold more familiar with the NFL.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10; won 17-7 vs MIA) (-)
Blake Bortles makes what may be his grand finale, so their game against the Texans is much-watch television.
30. San Francisco 49ers (4-11; lost 14-9 vs CHI) (-)
San Francisco will just want to put a lost season behind them and start working towards building a playoff team for next season.
31. Oakland Raiders (4-11; won 27-14 vs DEN) (-)
The Raiders win last week against the Broncos gave fans in Oakland the send-off that they deserve, but a win this weekend will give them a strong finish to their time as the “Oakland” Raiders.
32. Arizona Cardinals (3-12; lost 31-9 vs LAR) (-)
Arizona is a young team set to add another star with the first overall pick in this spring’s draft. A loss that locks down the top overall pick will be crucial, but they also can give rookie Josh Rosen some more game time and can give Larry Fitzgerald a proper send-off in what might be his final NFL game.