Kevin SeifertESPN Staff WriterClose
- ESPN.com national NFL writer
- ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
- Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008
Two playoff seeds up for grabs. A pair of division titles unsettled. A Sunday night showdown for the NFC West — and perhaps the No. 1 seed in the conference. High 2020 NFL draft picks sought after. Players making a final statement, backups getting a showcase and coaches on the hot seat. Week 17 promises to have it all.
Follow along all day long with us through all of the action. We’ll keep you updated on the playoff picture, standout performances and more.
11:55 a.m. ET
Two teams in today’s early window are locked into their playoff seeds: the Bills (AFC No. 5) and the Vikings (NFC No. 6). So it’s not surprising that both are benching many of their top-line players for their meaningless games.
The Vikings deactivated running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, and left tackle Riley Reiff. Quarterback Kirk Cousins isn’t expected to play much if at all against the Bears, either.
A full list of early inactives can be found here.
11:05 a.m. ET
We’ll be watching four teams in particular during the 1 p.m. ET games today. The Packers can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Lions and stay in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Saints need a win over the Panthers to maintain their chances for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The AFC’s No. 2 seed also remains in play: The Chiefs could move up to the No. 2 seed with a win over the Chargers and a Patriots loss to the Dolphins. Otherwise, the Patriots will clinch with a win.
Here’s what the playoff standings look like before we get underway today:
1. Baltimore Ravens (13-2)
2. New England Patriots (12-3)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
4. Houston Texans (10-5)
5. Buffalo Bills (10-5)
6. Tennessee Titans (8-7)
In the hunt: Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7), Oakland Raiders (7-8)
1. San Francisco 49ers (12-3)
2. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
3. New Orleans Saints (12-3)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
5. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
6. Minnesota Vikings (10-5)
In the hunt: Dallas Cowboys (7-8)
10:25 a.m. ET
If you’re not preparing for the playoffs in Week 17, you’re jockeying for position in the 2020 draft. The first pick is already spoken for: The Bengals have locked it up and will likely use it to select LSU’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.
Here’s how ESPN’s Football Power Index projects the top 10, with the Broncos and Falcons having the best chances to move up if an unexpected series of results occurs today. The full 32-team projection is here.
1. Cincinnati Bengals (1-14)
2. Washington Redskins (3-12)
3. Detroit Lions (3-11-1)
4. New York Giants (4-11)
5. Miami Dolphins (4-11)
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-10)
8. Carolina Panthers (5-10)
9. Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1)
10. New York Jets (6-9)
10 a.m. ET
It won’t be all about the playoffs on Sunday. A handful of NFL head coaches could be working their final games with their current franchises. Here’s where we stand.
Two teams have confirmed openings via in-season firings: the Panthers and Redskins.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced on Friday that the team is retaining coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff for the 2020 season.
Positions that could become open include but are not limited to the head coach job with the Browns, Cowboys, Lions, Jaguars and Giants. All of those teams except the Cowboys are eliminated from the playoffs. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is in a must-win position, and even a win might not be enough. Browns coach Freddie Kitchens, meanwhile, is just completing his first season with Cleveland, but the team largely disappointed after beginning with huge expectations. Giants coach Pat Shurmur and Lions coach Matt Patricia are finishing off their second years, while Jags coach Doug Marrone is 21-28 over four seasons.
Here’s the full breakdown of the coaching carousel.
9:30 a.m. ET
Somehow 16 weeks wasn’t quite enough to settle everything, and there is still much up for grabs in the final slate of the 2019 regular season. For one, playoff seeds aren’t final, and two teams still need to clinch playoff spots. A full rundown of what’s at stake is here in this post, but here’s a quick summary, along with some other relevant nuggets.
Early window (1 p.m. ET):
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City already has locked down the AFC West, but more can be had. It can clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a win and a Patriots loss on Sunday. It’ll be the No. 3 seed with a win and a Patriots win, or a loss and a Texans loss. But the Chiefs will fall to the No. 4 spot with a loss and a Texans win. Meanwhile, the FPI is projecting the Chargers to pick No. 7 overall in the 2020 draft.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are locked into the No. 6 seed no matter the outcome of this game, and the Bears have been eliminated and don’t have a first-round pick in the 2020 draft. Not much to see here, except perhaps a Week 17 high note to close the regular season.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Both teams have been eliminated from the playoffs. According to the FPI, the Falcons have a 10% chance of moving up into the top 10 of the 2020 draft, whereas the Buccaneers are currently projected to pick No. 17 overall. But there will be plenty more at stake. With Quinn’s job reportedly safe for the 2020 season, the Falcons can knock the Bucs out of second place in the NFC South. And the Bucs will be watching Jameis Winston, who could become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season. Tampa Bay will have to make a call on Winston and its future at the position in the offseason.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers: The Saints can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a loss by either the 49ers or Packers, or with victories by the Packers and Seahawks. To get the No. 1 seed, the Saints need a win, along with losses by the 49ers and Packers. Otherwise, they will be the No. 3 seed. On the other side, the FPI projects the Panthers to lose and get the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Need another reason to tune in? Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey needs 67 receiving yards and 39 rushing yards to become the first player in NFL history to have 1,400 yards rushing and 1,000 receiving in the same season, while New Orleans receiver Michael Thomas is 112 receiving yards shy of 1,800 for the season, which would make him the fifth player in NFL history to reach the mark.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots: The Patriots can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win or a Chiefs loss. They won’t be seeded any lower than No. 3. And the Dolphins are currently in the No. 5 spot for the 2020 draft, with only a 2.5% chance of falling lower than that, according to the FPI.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: The Packers can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win and a 49ers loss. They’ll be the No. 2 seed with a win and a 49ers win, or a loss and a Saints loss. But they’ll fall to the No. 3 seed with a loss and a Saints win. Meanwhile, the FPI projects the Lions to get the No. 3 overall pick of the draft.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills: The Bills already have clinched the No. 5 seed regardless of the outcome of this game, and the FPI projects the Jets to pick No. 10 overall in the draft. Also worth watching: Buffalo’s Josh Allen needs one rushing touchdown to become the third player since the 1970 merger with 20 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs in a single season.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are already locked in to the No. 1 pick in the draft, so they have every reason to try to win this game. The FPI is projecting the Browns to pick No. 13 in the draft, but they have a 14.7% chance to move up into the top 10.
Victor Cruz and Rob Ninkovich say the Saints will be motivated to earn a bye week and will beat the Panthers.
Late window (4:25 p.m. ET):
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans: The Titans can clinch the AFC’s No. 6 seed with a win or losses by the Steelers and Colts. And at the forefront of their bid will be Ryan Tannehill. It’s perhaps his last opportunity to give Tennessee a reason to re-sign him in the offseason. The Texans, already AFC South champs, will be the No. 3 seed if they win and the Chiefs lose. Otherwise, they will be the No. 4 seed.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens: Pittsburgh can clinch the AFC’s No. 6 seed via three different scenarios: (1) a win and a Titans loss, (2) losses by the Titans and Raiders with a Colts win, or (3) wins by the Colts and Raiders along with losses by the Bears, Lions, Chargers and Patriots. The Ravens already have clinched home-field advantage and plan to hold out most of their key players for this game. Get ready for Robert Griffin under center.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams: Both teams have been eliminated from the playoffs. The FPI projects a Cardinals loss boosting them to the No. 9 pick in the draft. The Rams traded their pick to the Jaguars (projected to be No. 20 overall).
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys need a victory and an Eagles loss to win the NFC East. Otherwise, they will be eliminated from the playoffs. Garrett could be coaching for his job Sunday. Meanwhile, the FPI is projecting the Redskins to lose and wind up with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars: Both teams are eliminated, but the outcome could impact tiebreakers for the AFC’s No. 6 seed. The FPI projects the Jaguars to pick No. 6 and the Colts to pick No. 16 in the draft.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: Win, and in. The Eagles will clinch the NFC East and the No. 4 seed, with a win or a Cowboys loss. They’ll be eliminated if they lose and the Cowboys win. The FPI projects the Giants to have the No. 4 pick in the draft.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos: So you’re telling me there’s a chance. The Raiders are still alive for the AFC’s No. 6 seed! They’ll need a win, combined with losses by the Titans and Steelers, as well as a Colts win and a win by at least one of the following teams: the Bears, Lions, Chargers or Patriots. And on the other side, the FPI gives the Broncos a 20.6% chance of moving into the top 10 of the draft.
Sunday Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET):
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks: Everything is on the line. The 49ers would clinch the NFC West and the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win. Otherwise, they will be the No. 5 seed. The Seahawks would win the NFC West with a victory but would need losses by the Packers and Saints to be the top seed. They’ll be No. 2 if they win and the Packers lose. Otherwise, a win will deliver them the No. 3 seed. A loss would put them at No. 5.