NFL playoff scenarios and Week 18 odds

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Regular season ends on Sunday with playoff implications everywhere for Week 18

The NFC playoff picture is clearer than the AFC playoff picture, but there are still several games that decide seeding and division titles in Week 18. You’ll want to stay up on the latest player news this week, as we had tons of key injuries in Week 17. Some teams will also be sitting players to prepare for the postseason or focusing more on draft position.

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The Bills vs. Bengals game to finish Week 17 is important tonight, as it has No. 1 seed implications for both teams and Cincinnati can also win the AFC North (see our MNF best bets). We’ll update again after Monday Night Football, but let’s look at what we do know as of now.

Here are the playoff scenarios and some thoughts on those Week 18 NFL games:

Division Champions

AFC South

Titans at Jaguars (-6.5, 38.5)

The winner will be the No. 4 seed and the AFC South Champion. The loser will go home and reflect on what could have been. The Jaguars are absolutely on fire right now and the Titans are the polar opposite, so even though this game is for the division title, we still see Jacksonville lined as a very heavy favorite.

NFC East

Cowboys (-4, 41.5) at Commanders

Giants at Eagles (-13.5, 42.5)

If the Eagles beat the Giants, they win the NFC East and the No. 1 overall seed. The Cowboys need a win and an Eagles loss to secure the NFC East crown, as Philadelphia lost 20-10 to the Saints in Week 17. Unfortunately for Dallas, the Giants clinched a playoff berth last week and have no reason to play anybody against the Eagles in Week 18. We’ll see if the Eagles bring Jalen Hurts back to lock up the division title or if they try to get by with Gardner Minshew against a watered-down Giants bunch.

The Cowboys would be the No. 5 seed and take on the Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round if they are unable to win the division. If the Cowboys win and 49ers beat the Cardinals, San Francisco is the No. 1 seed.

AFC Wild Card Teams

Patriots at Bills (TBD)

Jets at Dolphins (-2.5, 39.5)

Browns at Steelers (-3, 39)

Only one AFC Wild Card spot is up for grabs in Week 18. The Patriots control their own destiny. A win over the Bills and they are in. A loss to the Bills and everything gets crazy. 

The Dolphins have lost five in a row, but bought some precious time with an 8-3 start. It does appear that they will be without Tua Tagovailoa again and Teddy Bridgewater broke a finger last week. Miami’s playoff hopes may rest on the shoulders of Skylar Thompson. If the Dolphins beat the Jets and the Patriots lose to the Bills, Miami is in.

The craziest scenario is with the Steelers. If the Patriots and Dolphins both lose, and the Steelers beat the Browns, Pittsburgh will grab the final Wild Card spot.

NFC Wild Card Teams

Lions at Packers (-4.5, 48.5)

Rams at Seahawks (-6.5, 41.5)

If the Packers beat the Lions, Green Bay is in. If the Lions beat the Packers, they still need a Seahawks loss to the Rams in order to make it in. If the Lions and Seahawks win, Seattle is in.

The Lions haven’t made the playoffs since the 2016 season and haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. The Packers started this season 4-8, but have won four in a row to get to 8-8 and set up this huge game at Lambeau Field. The Packers simply need to win and they are in. The Lions need a win and a Seahawks loss to the Rams.

The Lions won the first meeting 15-9 indoors at Ford Field, but the Packers had a 135-yard edge and got stopped on downs in the red zone to end the game. The Seahawks beat the Rams 27-23 back in Week 13 when John Wolford got the start. They’ll face Baker Mayfield this time around.

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