Week 17 NFL Preview By Kevin Kennedy

As we enter the final week of the NFL regular season, two playoff spots, and a few seeding orders, remain up for grabs. In the AFC, all six spots have been locked up, but the Patriots and Raiders each have a shot at locking up home field advantage throughout, while the Chiefs are still battling the Raiders for the AFC West Title. Kansas City currently sits in the fifth spot, while the Raiders are the number two seed, but that could flip by the end of the weekend.

In the NFC, two spots remain up for grabs. One is the NFC North crown, which will go to the winner of the Packers-Lions matchup on Sunday night, while the other is the sixth and final spot, which will go to the Redskins if they beat the Giants or to the loser of the Green Bay-Detroit game, if the Redskins lose to the Giants. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the week 17 games with playoff implications.

Redskins vs. Giants

Kicking off from FedEx Field at 4:25 p.m. Sunday, the scenario is simple for the Redskins. Beat the Giants and make the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time in 24 years. The good news for Washington is that tight end Jordan Reed should play and be effective now that he has recovered from his separated shoulder. The bad news for the Skins is that the Giants plan to play their starters for the entire game, even though they have locked up the #5 seed. The Redskins beat the Giants 29-27 back in week three when Su’a Cravens intercepted an Eli Manning pass late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Packers vs. Lions

A few short weeks ago, the Lions were 9-4 and in the mix for a first round bye, but consecutive road losses to the Giants and Cowboys have dropped them to 9-6 and forced a title game in the NFC North for the fourth straight season. While Detroit hopes Ford Field will cure their current ills, standing in their way is Aaron Rodgers and his prediction that the Packers would run the table and make the playoffs. This bold statement came after a 42-24 loss in Washington that dropped the Packers to 4-6. Green Bay followed that up with five straight wins and will look to make it six to claim the NFC North and make a postseason appearance that seemed impossible a month ago.

Raiders vs. Broncos

With the defending Super Bowl champs already eliminated from playoff contention, this would look to be a game the Raiders can win to at least secure the #2 spot. However, they will have to win this one, and any other games they play this season, with Matt McGloin at quarterback because Derek Carr is done for the year after breaking his leg last week. An Oakland win brings home the AFC West crown and guarantees them at least the #2 seed and a shot at the #1 seed if the Patriots lose. A loss and the Raiders could fall all the way to the #5 seed if the Chiefs beat the Chargers.

Chiefs vs. Chargers

Kansas City is already guaranteed of the #5 seed in the AFC. If they beat the Chargers (whom they beat back in week 1) and they will give themselves a chance for the AFC West title, which they would claim with a victory and a Raiders loss. For the Chargers, this could be their last game in San Diego as a move to Los Angeles is looking more likely. They would probably like nothing more than to keep their rivals from winning the division as a send off of to their loyal fans.

Patriots vs. Dolphins

Both teams have locked up postseason spots. The Dolphins will be the sixth seed, win or lose and New England can lock up home field with a win. If the Patriots lose and the Raiders win, Oakland would get home field throughout.

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