The 2017 NFL season is drawing to a close and with this ending comes the playoffs. In the AFC, the playoff field is nearly set. However, with one week remaining, there are still some questions that need to be answered. We will run down some of the pressing issues that still remain unresolved in the AFC.
Which team will become the AFC’s #1 seed?
Last week, faced off in what many are calling the best game of the 2017 NFL season. Trailing by three points in the final seconds, the home team Pittsburgh Steelers had set up a remarkable 1-play drive to put the team near the end zone in the games final seconds. However, a controversial touchdown reversal and an untimely interception thrown by Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sealed the win for the Patriots, propelling them to the top spot in the AFC. Both the Patriots and Steelers held serve in Week 16, with the Patriots playing a close contest turned blow-out against the Buffalo Bills and the Steelers throttling the Texans on Christmas night in Houston. This week, the Patriots face off against the lowly New York Jets with the Steelers playing the 0-15 Cleveland Browns. Unless the Patriots have a massive slip-up and lose to the Jets, it looks like New England will once again hold the AFC’s top seed. to not only win the AFC East, but the Super Bowl as well. A win in this year’s big game would be a record sixth championship for quarterback Tom Brady and tie New England and Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl victories by any team.
Who will claim the Wild Card Slots?
New England, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, and Kansas City have wrapped up the AFC East, North, South, and West division crowns respectively. However, both Wild Card spots remain up for grabs. Currently, Tennessee and Baltimore hold the Wild Card slots, with the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers on the outside looking in. However, all four teams have a chance at making the post season. For Baltimore, it’s as simple as defeating the Bengals. If they win, they’re in. The same goes for the Titans, facing off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have very little to play for. Things get a bit more tricky for the Bills and Chargers. Buffalo needs either a Baltimore loss or losses from both Tennessee and San Diego, in addition to a win of their own against the Dolphins to secure a spot, while the Chargers require the ultimate long-shot of having Baltimore, Tennessee, and Buffalo all lose. Given that all four teams should be favored to win their respective games, the teams needing others to lose are in a tough position. My prediction is that the Ravens and Titans will ultimately hold the final spots when the dust settles.