You blinked and it's 2023. The regular season is just about over and your team is ready for the 'yoffs, or you are looking at the draft board in the spring. Either way, if you are a lover of the game, you are hyped that we were granted a Week 18. One extra game to stretch the season along, and boy does it have some hefty implications. Not everyone is locked in just yet, we have some marquee matchups that will decide who keeps playing and who cuts their season short. Here's the breakdown, and a potential prediction.
First and foremost, thoughts and prayers to Damar Hamlin, keep fighting. Obviously a person's life is more important than the game. With the suspension of the Bills and Bengals matchup, the Chiefs hold the No.1 seed, and will continue to do so with a win at the Las Vegas Raiders and with a Bills loss to the Bengals or Patriots. Because Monday's game is TBD, here is where things shake out in the AFC.
No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) - Clinched AFC West
No. 2 Buffalo Bills (12-3) - Clinched AFC East
No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) - AFC North Leader (clinched playoff berth)
No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) - AFC South leader
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers (10-6) - Wild Card (clinched playoff berth)
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - Wild Card (clinched playoff berth)
No. 7 New England Patriots (8-8) - Wild Card
No. 1 Seed
Chiefs - Win over Raiders, Bills lose to Patriots
Bills - Win over Bengals (TBD) AND win over Patriots (W18)
Bengals - Win over Bills (TBD) AND win over Ravens (W18), AND Chiefs lose to Raiders
Signs are pointing to a cancellation of Bills-Bengals by the NFL, with AFC playoff seeding based on winning percentages. This means that the Chiefs would capture the No. 1 seed by beating the Raiders on Saturday. The Bills would become the top seed by beating the Patriots on Sunday, if the Chiefs lose on Saturday.
In The Hunt
Patriots - Win over Bills, OR Dolphins lose to Jets AND Steelers lose to Browns
Dolphins - Win over Jets AND Patriots lose to Bills
Steelers - Win over Browns AND Dolphins lose to Jets AND Patriots lose to Bills
Jaguars - Clinch AFC South with Win or Tie against Titans. If they lose to Tennessee, they could get final spot with losses to Dolphins, Patriots, and Steelers.
I am not sure if the Bills will play this game, but if they do, I think they'll win dominantly in Hamlin's honor. As for the Dolphins, Mike White is looking to lock in his next contract and is going to put on a show, therefore the Steelers are your 7th seed, as long as they get it done against Cleveland. Also, I think the Jaguars smoke the Titans to lock up the AFC South.
The mighty Eagles have fallen. I mean, they are still an incredible team, but it isn't a sure lock for the No. 1 seed anymore. The Giants could play spoiler, but they could also rest their players, who knows. As for the final spot, i
No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) - NFC East leader (clinched playoff berth)
No. 2 San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - Clinched NFC West
No. 3 Minnesota Vikings (12-4) - Clinched NFC North
No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) - Clinched NFC South
No. 5 Dallas Cowboys (12-4) - Wild Card (clinched playoff berth)
No. 6 New York Giants (9-6-1) - Wild Card (clinched playoff berth)
No. 7 Seattle Seahawks (8-8) - Wild Card
No. 1 Seed
Eagles - Clinch the NFC East title with a win over the Giants or loss by the Cowboys. They'll clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference with a win or with losses by the Cowboys and 49ers.
49ers - Clinch top seed in the NFC with a win and a loss by the Eagles.
Cowboys - Win the NFC East with a win and an Eagles' loss. They get the top NFC playoff seed with a win and losses by the Eagles and 49ers.
In The Hunt
Packers - Win and in, clinch the final NFC playoff berth with a win.
Lions - Clinch berth with a win and a loss by the Seahawks.
Seahawks - Clinch berth with win and a Packers loss.
Now if you want to toss on your tinfoil hat and say the NFL is rigged, well, the Lions will beat the Packers (because Goodell is anti-Rodgers) and the Seahawks will lose to the Rams. Detroit got screwed on this one, but I would love to see them make the final push in.