NFL Playoff Push: Week 18 clinching scenarios bring plenty of drama

With the playoffs fast approaching Follow The Money's Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard look at the odds on some NFL futures including AFC and NFC conference odds as well as Super Bowl favourites.

For the first time in league history, we can say: Week 18 of the NFL season is upon us.

And while some matchups are being played with just pride on the line in this regular-season finale, we've got some drama-filled games ahead with plenty still up for grabs when it comes to the 2021 NFL playoff picture.

Across the league, we've got one bye week, two divisions, and three playoff spots still up for grabs in addition to more than 100 different seeding possibilities. Here's what the post-season picture looks like as we head into the 18th and final week of the NFL season, and what clinching scenarios you should watch for.


Here’s what our Wild Card Weekend matchups (Jan. 15-17) would look like:

Chargers (7) at Titans (2)
Colts (6) at Bengals (3)
Patriots (5) at Bills (4)
Bye: Chiefs (1)

Eagles (7) at Rams (2)
49ers (6) at Buccaneers (3)
Cardinals (5) at Cowboys (4)
Bye:Bye: Packers (1)


The AFC has two wild card spots still up for grabs, with five teams in the running to snatch them up, and a whopping 130 different playoff seeding possibilities (compared to the NFC's 32). Additionally, the AFC East remains undecided as the Bills (currently sitting fourth) and Patriots (fifth) each take one final attempt at the division crown.

Who's in?
1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5, AFC title)
2. Tennessee Titans (11-5, AFC South title)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, AFC North title)
4. Buffalo Bills (10-6)
5. New England Patriots (10-6)

Who's in the hunt?
6. Indianapolis Colts
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Las Vegas Raiders
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Baltimore Ravens

What are we fighting for?
Let's dig in...

One last playoff push: Colts, Chargers, Raiders, Steelers, Ravens take final shot at post-season
If the regular season ended today, the Colts (9-7) and Chargers (9-7) would be in the playoffs. But for the first time in NFL history, we've got a Week 18 -- and it's bringing plenty of drama, as four of those teams are going head-to-head. The Chargers and Raiders each have a win-and-you're-in scenario in their AFC West matchup while the Steelers are fighting to extend what is probably Ben Roethlisberger's final season in the NFL as they take on the Ravens. Big Ben brought the magic at home last Monday night in what was likely his final regular-season home game... can he do it again now in Baltimore? The Ravens will be without their No. 1 guy in Lamar Jackson, who's still sidelined with an ankle injury.

Indianapolis clinches a playoff berth with:
- IND win or tie (at Jacksonville); OR
- LAC loss + BAL-PIT tie; OR
- LAC loss + PIT loss + MIA win

Los Angeles clinches a playoff berth with:
- LAC win or tie (at Vegas)

Las Vegas clinches a playoff berth with:
- LV win (vs. Chargers); OR
- LV tie + IND loss; OR
- IND loss + PIT loss or tie

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff berth with:
- PIT win (at Baltimore) + IND loss + LV-LAC game does not end in a tie

Baltimore clinches a playoff berth with:
- BAL win (vs. Pittsburgh) + LAC loss + IND loss + MIA loss or tie

Who will claim AFC East? Bills, Patriots playing for division crown
The way things are lining up, it looks like we're likely to have an AFC East showdown on Wild Card Weekend. But who's got home-field advantage? That's still up for grabs.

Buffalo clinches the AFC East division title with:
- BUF win (vs. Jets); OR
- NE loss (@ Dolphins); OR
- BUF tie + NE tie

New England clinches AFC East division title with:
- NE win (at Dolphins) + BUF loss or tie OR
- NE tie + BUF loss


It should surprise no one, considering how this whole season has gone, that the NFC's playoff picture holds far fewer variables than the AFC. The Green Bay Packers are the de facto top team in the conference, claiming the NFC's top seed -- and with it the coveted bye week and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs -- for the second straight year.

Meanwhile, just one division title (NFC West) and one playoff spot remains up for grabs.

Who's in?
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3, NFC North title, No. 1 seed in NFC)
2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4, NFC South title)
4. Dallas Cowboys (12-5, NFC East title)
5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

Who's in the hunt?
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
8. New Orleans Saints (8-8)

What are we fighting for?
Let's dig in...

One last playoff push: 49ers, Saints take final shot at post-season
If the playoffs began today, San Francisco would be in the sixth seed. The Saints, however, are breathing down their necks and could jump into the post-season by the end of Sunday's action -- though, New Orleans cannot do it alone.

While it may look like the 49ers have a clear path in that sense, their final hurdle en route to the post-season -- the red-hot Rams -- poses a significantly larger challenge than the one the Saints are staring down (Falcons).

San Francisco clinches a playoff berth with:
- SF win or tie (at Rams) OR
- NO loss or tie

New Orleans clinches a playoff berth with:
- NO win (at Atlanta) + SF loss

Who's best in the NFC West? Rams, Cardinals in the running
After a red-hot start to the season that saw them in the early lead to clinch the NFL's toughest division, the Arizona Cardinals stumbled into the playoffs and no longer have the inside track on the division title -- that belongs to the Rams.

While L.A. is in win-and-you're-in position this Sunday, their path isn't quite so simple considering their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, are desperate to grab hold of the NFC's final playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Cardinals take on Seattle.

Los Angeles clinches the NFC West division title with:
- LAR win or tie (vs. 49ers); OR
- ARI loss or tie

Arizona clinches the NFC West division title with:
- ARI win (vs. Seattle) + LAR loss (vs. 49ers)

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