- Three playoff spots remain with one week left in the NFL’s regular season
- Six teams that have not yet clinched berths are still alive for the postseason
- The health of Titans QB Marcus Mariota plays a big role in the odds
Entering Week 17 in the NFL three playoff spots are up for grabs. Either Baltimore or Pittsburgh will win the AFC North, Indianapolis and Tennessee face off with the winner getting into the postseason and the loser going home, and Minnesota has a clear edge on Philadelphia to take the NFC’s last available spot.
There is still some jockeying for seeds among other teams, and the bottom of the league is in a race for top draft picks, but for the purposes of who gets in and who has a long winter ahead of them, lets take a look at the odds.
As for the last half dozen still on the bubble, Bovada has their odds for reaching the postseason.
AFC Odds to Make the Playoffs
|AFC Teams||Odds to Reach the NFL Playoffs|
Ravens or Steelers?
If Baltimore beats Cleveland, the Ravens win the AFC North. If Baltimore falls, Pittsburgh must upend Cincinnati to continue their campaign. Both teams winning or losing sends the Ravens to the playoffs. The scenarios are easy to understand, but the handicapping is a bit more complicated.
The Browns are playing very well and could finish the season with a winning record for this first time since 2007 with a victory over the Ravens. Baltimore has taken off since Lamar Jackson has been given the reigns at quarterback, but there is significant debate whether the run-first QB can continue like this. It is worth mentioning he has faced one bad running defense after another so far, finally seeing a solid unit Saturday against the Chargers. Los Angeles did a decent job stopping Jackson on the ground, but he had his best passing game of the season. The Browns are league average against the run, and weak against the pass.
The Bengals have played a difficult schedule, but are all banged up, and have one win since October. The Steelers should find a way to beat them. It really comes down to Baltimore and Cleveland. Because the Ravens are at home, one would think they find a way. While the Browns are a nice story, Baltimore is coming off a win in LA against the Chargers, and a near victory at Kansas City in their last two contests against contenders. We like their chances against the inferior Browns.
Pick: Baltimore -270
Colts or Titans?
The Texans are in the playoffs and so long as they beat the Jaguars on Sunday Houston captures the AFC South. If Houston losses, the winner of Indianapolis and Tennessee earns the division title. More likely, Houston wins and the whoever prospers Sunday Night in Nashville gets a Wild Card.
Tennessee would be a slight favorite if we knew quarterback Marcus Mariota was healthy and able to play. However, Mariota was injured in Saturday’s victory against Washington, and his status is up in the air. He went down late in the first half when these team’s met in mid-November, but the Colts were too good that day anyway.
The public is going to like the better quarterback, Indy’s Andrew Luck. If we knew Mariota was going to play, at home, the Titans would be the call. Not knowing that is difficult, but surprisingly the odds look like Mariota is healthy, and he is not. That makes the Colts a solid value option.
Pick: Indianapolis +120
NFC Odds to Make the Playoffs
|NFC Teams||Odds to Reach the NFL Playoffs|
Vikings or Eagles?
The Cowboys, Saints, Bears, and Rams have won NFC division races. The Seahawks are the first Wild Card. That leaves the final spot available, with Minnesota needing a win over Chicago to punch their ticket, and the Eagles rooting hard for the Bears, and then needing a win of their own over Washington.
While Minnesota can beat a healthy Chicago team, there is some thought that Chicago is likely going to be the number three seed and will tread lightly in this game. The Bears would need to win, and have the Rams fall at home to the 49ers in order to get a bye. Even if Chicago plays starters, will they go the whole game? Will it be sort of a vanilla game plan so not to reveal much for the postseason? If the Vikings win, they likely will play the Bears again next week with the winner moving on to the Divisional Playoffs and the loser heading home.
Though the Eagles are a significant favorite over Washington, it is hard to imagine the Bears, knowing they are going to face the same Vikings team next week, showing their hand at all. How does it benefit them? Sure the Rams could lose, but the chances of that are slim. Because Chicago is likely treating this in the same manner as a preseason game, it is hard to pick against the Vikings getting the final spot.
Pick: Minnesota -320