Ten of the 12 playoff teams are now determined with the Titans, Steelers and Raiders battling for the final playoff spot in the AFC, and the Eagles can clinch the final NFC spot by beating the Giants.
The Titans get the AFC slot if they beat Houston. If they lose, the Steelers probably get it because they play a Baltimore team that has clinched the top seed and will rest Lamar Jackson.
But if Titans and Steelers both lose and the Colts beat the Jaguars, the Raiders get in by beating Denver. New England gets the second seed and the bye by beating Miami.
In the NFC, the battle for the top seed is wide open. San Francisco gets it if it beats Seahawks. If the Seahawks win, the 49ers become a wild cardteam and the Packers, Seahawks and Saints will be battling for the top two spots.
—On Sept. 29, the Ravens didn’t look like a title contender when they suffered their second loss, a 40-25 setback against the Browns. It was fitting that they clinched the top seed with their 11th straight victory by beating the Browns 31-15. Lamar Jackson had a typical day, throwing for three touchdown passes and rushing for 103, the fifth time he has rushed for over 100 yards. Jackson’s MVP regular season is now over. He will sit out the season finale, but will be favored to get the Ravens their third title since the old Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996.
—Michael Thomas caught 12 passes for the Saints in their victory over Tennessee to boost his season total to 145 catches, the most over for a wide receiver in NFL history. And he somehow manages not to get much recognition because he is not a diva the way so many wide receivers are.
—Daniel Jones returned to the lineup for the Giants after sitting out two games with an ankle injury and completed 28 of 42 for 352 yards, five touchdowns and no picks in a 41-35 overtime victory over the Redskins. The Giants may have found their quarterback of the future.
—Jimmy Garoppolo twice converted on third and 16 in the game winning drive against the Rams to set up Robbie Gould’s game winning field goal that kept the 49ers alive in the bid for the top seed. They clinch it if they beat the Seahawks in their finale.
—The injury riddled Philadelphia Eagles beat the Cowboys 17-9 to put themselves in position to win the division and host a playoff game if they beat the Giants in their finale. Carson Wentz had a solid game, but it was the Eagles’ defense that was the difference as they throttled the Cowboys offense with the help of some errant throws by Dak Prescott, who was playing a shoulder injury.
—The Rams not only won’t be going back to the Super Bowl, they won’t be making the playoffs after losing to the Seahawks, 34-31. The loss dropped the Rams to 8-7 and eliminated them from the playoffs. The Rams went all in on winning this year, giving up on Marcus Peters and giving up two first round picks for Jalen Ramsey. On one of the two third and 16 plays the Rams allowed, Ramsey and Taylor Rupp had a mix-up in coverage and Emmanuel Sanders ran free on a 46-yard reception. The future is now bleak for the Rams. The Rams have spent two much money, notably on Todd Gurley, and don’t have the top picks they need to get back to the top. Teams are no longer looking for the next Sean McVay the way they were last year.
—The Steelers lost control of their destiny with the loss to the Jets. Coach Mike Tomlin benched Duck Hodges after he threw two interceptions and went back to Mason Rudolph but after he tied the game 10-10, he was injured and Hodges came back and couldn’t pull it out. The Steelers can still make the playoffs if they lose to a Baltimore team that will rest Lamar Jackson and Tennessee loses to Houston and could make it by losing if the Titans, Jaguars and Raiders all lose. But they may wind up being the seventh spot in a six-team playoff format for the fourth time in the last decade.
—Jerry Jones will probably fire Jason Garrett if the Eagles beat the Giants and knock them out of the playoffs. This will mean the Cowboys who last won a Super Bowl in 1995, won’t end that drought this year. But the problem isn’t Garrett. It’s Jerry. He likes a low-key coach like Garrett who doesn’t take the spotlight away from him. He should hire a general manager and let him find a coach but Jerry won’t do that so the Cowboys Super Bowl drought is likely to continue.
—The Bears got an up-close look at why they should have drafted Patrick Mahomes instead of Mitch Trubisky. The Chiefs routed the Bears 23-3 and Mahomes made a point of counting to 10 on his fingers to note he was the 10th pick. Trubisky was the second pick. Bypassing Mahomes and Deshaun Jackson will haunt the Bears a long time.
—The Browns got a lot of hype as a team on the rise in the offseason but they turned out to be the same old Browns. Their loss to the Ravens guaranteed them their 12th consecutive losing season and eliminated them from the playoffs. Freddie Kitchens could be gone after one season.