Just three weeks remain in the NFL regular season, and the playoff races are heating up as well as the races for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the all important first round bye for each conference. The AFC and NFC have two teams with a greater than a 20-percent chance to usurp the current wild-card teams and the AFC South is narrowing toward a coin flip, but that’s not all that’s at stake during Week 16.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in position to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC this week, but the availability of Jalen Hurts against Dallas — and possibly for long-term — is now in question. The Eagles are still very likely to clinch the bye, but their odds do drop by about 6 percent if they lose to the Cowboys on Saturday. But that isn’t the only ripple effect of Hurts’ uncertainty. The Eagles play the Giants in Week 18, and not clinching the bye before the final week of the regular season could see Philadelphia having to play to win that week and potentially shake up things in the NFC wild-card race.
As for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Bills are the current favorites at 59.1 percent, followed by the Chiefs at 37.3 percent. The Bengals are the third most likely team to clinch at 3.6 percent. It’s likely to be a two-team race, and with the Bills and Chiefs both favored by around double-digits this weekend, it’s unlikely we see too much drama. If we do, however, and one of the Bears or Seahawks pull off the upset, the odds to earn the bye would swing significantly.
Six teams are in the playoffs entering Week 16: The Bills and Chiefs in the AFC and the Eagles, Vikings, 49ers and Cowboys in the NFC. Three more AFC teams and one more NFC team can clinch berths this week, and the Bills and Eagles have milestones at stake too.
• The Ravens are in with any of 10 scenarios that involve wins or ties by them and wins, losses or ties by as many as seven other teams. There is even a scenario that gets Baltimore in regardless of its result if the Patriots and Jets lose, the Browns, Raiders and Titans lose or tie, and the Chargers win.
• The Bills clinch the AFC East with a win at Chicago on Saturday or a Dolphins loss the Packers on Sunday.
• The Eagles clinch the NFC East title with a win or tie at Dallas on Saturday and clinch NFC home-field advantage and a first-round bye with a win or a tie and loss or tie by the Vikings.
However, as mentioned above, the Eagles’ injury situation could have ripple effects throughout the NFC playoff race. The AFC gives us a huge showdown on Thursday Night Football between the Jaguars and Jets, two teams on the outside looking in right now, but don’t overlook Bengals at Patriots as that game has significant playoff and AFC North implications. After scanning the slate, there are 10 games during Week 16 that will move the needle for one or both teams involved. Let’s take a look at the potential swings in playoff odds for each team if they were to win this week:
Jaguars at Jets, 8:15 p.m. ET Thursday
What if the Jaguars win?
What if the Jets win?
Falcons at Ravens, 1 p.m. ET Saturday
What if the Falcons win?
What if the Ravens win?
Lions at Panthers, 1 p.m. ET Saturday
What if the Lions win?
What if the Panthers win?
Seahawks at Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET Saturday
What if the Seahawks win?
What if the Chiefs win?
Giants at Vikings, 1 p.m. ET Saturday
What if the Giants win?
What if the Vikings win?
Bengals at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET Saturday
What if the Bengals win?
What if the Patriots win?
Commanders at 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday
What if the Commanders win?
What if the 49ers win?
Eagles at Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET Saturday
What if the Eagles win?
What if the Cowboys win?
Packers at Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET Sunday
What if the Packers win?
What if the Dolphins win?
Chargers at Colts, 8:15 p.m. ET Monday
What if the Chargers win?
What if the Colts win?
(Photo: Julio Aguilar / Getty Images)