There are some big clinching scenarios around the NFL in Week 17. Let’s start with the most improbable – with a win on Thursday night over the New York Jets, the Cleveland Browns, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, will lock up an AFC playoff spot. They are more than a touchdown favorite for that game and will no doubt have an incredible home-field advantage with riled-up crowd.

Staying in the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens can not only clinch the division but also lock up the No. 1 seed and home field advantage in the AFC by defeating the Miami Dolphins. That would give them nothing to play for in Week 18 and would allow them to give their key starters two weeks of rest to get fresh for the playoffs.

Regarding teams still fighting for playoff spots, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks are playing a massive game for both teams on Sunday afternoon. The Seahawks are still in control of a Wild Card spot as long as they win, while the Steelers will almost certainly need to win each of their remaining games and get some help.

The Las Vegas Raiders and Indianapolis Colts are also playing a sneaky big game in the AFC race. With back-to-back wins the Raiders have inched their way closer to a playoff spot and can leapfrog the Colts in the Wild Card race with a win. It is still an extreme long shot for them, but the Raiders are back in the hunt.

The entire AFC South is a mess as the fading Jaguars, Colts and Houston Texans all enter the week with matching 8-7 records. The good news for the Texans is that C.J. Stroud is getting closer to clearing concussion protocol and could be an option for their game against the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars have the most favorable remaining schedule of all three teams, but need to care of business against a two-win Panthers team.

The Sunday night game is also massive for both the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings as they enter with matching 7-8 records for what could be an elimination game in the NFC Wild Card race.

Buffalo is the biggest favorite of the week at nearly two touchdowns over New England. The highest over/under of the week is the Dallas Cowboys–Detroit Lions game at 53.5 points. The lowest total is the Browns-Jets game at 35.5 points.

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New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (Thursday)

  • It is a very simple scenario for the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. If they beat the New York Jets, they are in the playoffs.
  • The Browns are a touchdown favorite and are a perfect 5-0 against the spread as home favorites this season and 7-1 at home against the spread overall.
  • Joe Flacco has won three of his first four starts as the Browns quarterback. Coming into this season, he had won just three of his previous 17 starts over the past four years.
  • A win on Thursday would give the Browns franchise just their second 11-win season since 1994. They still have a chance at 12 wins, which they have not done since the 1986 season.

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (Saturday)

  • The Lions (11-4) are division champions for the first time in 30 years. The Cowboys (10-5) also have clinched a playoff spot despite posting back-to-back losses.
  • Dallas will put its 15-game home winning streak on the line, while Detroit is tied with San Francisco for the best road record among NFC teams (6-2).
  • A Lions victory would match the franchise record for wins in a season. In 1991, Detroit went 12-4, defeated Dallas in the divisional round and lost to Washington in the NFC Championship Game.
  • In the Cowboys’ five defeats, they have been outrushed by more than 300 yards (858-501).
  • The Lions are third in the NFL in rushing offense at 141.1 yards per game and have gained at least 140 yards on the ground in five straight contests.

Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts

  • It is a long shot, but the Las Vegas Raiders suddenly have some playoff hopes after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16.
  • A loss on Sunday would be extremely damaging to the Colts’ wild-card chances and might leave their playoff hopes entirely in winning the AFC South.
  • The 63-point outburst against the Chargers was a huge outlier for the Raiders offense. They have been held to 20 points or less in seven of the past nine games and have not scored an offensive touchdown in two of the past three games.
  • The Colts have scored at least 20 points in every home game this season and at least 23 points in each of their past six home games.
  • Jonathan Taylor returned in Week 16 and rushed for 43 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown.

Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears

  • The Falcons (7-8) are a game behind the Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South and part of a logjam of teams just on the outside looking in at a wild card spot.
  • Atlanta scored a season-high 29 points in last week’s win over Indianapolis and the Falcons’ defense gave up less than 300 yards of total offense for the fourth straight game.
  • This is a matchup of two grounded offenses. Atlanta is second in the NFL in rushing attempts (473) with Chicago just a carry behind. The Bears are second in rushing yards per game (142.1) with the Falcons checking in at eighth (129.8).
  • Chicago’s defense is No. 1 against the run, surrendering 80.7 yards per game. The Bears have allowed only three teams to go over the century mark on the ground against them – Lions (twice), Chiefs and Buccaneers.

Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • The Jaguars (8-7) are tied record-wise with the Colts and Texans but still lead the AFC South due to a better divisional record. Jacksonville will end the regular season on the road against Tennessee (5-10).
  • The Jags hope to snap their four-game losing streak this Sunday but may be without Trevor Lawrence. His status is in doubt after he left last Sunday’s lopsided loss to Tampa Bay with a shoulder injury. C.J. Beathard is expected to start if Lawrence can’t go.
  • Beathard’s last start came in Week 17 of the 2020 season when he was with the 49ers. The six-year veteran signal-caller is 2-10 in his career as the starter.
  • No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young is coming off of his best performance, posting his first 300-yard game with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Panthers’ 33-30 road loss to the Packers.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Buccaneers (8-7) currently lead the NFC South but a Saints win and Falcons victory over the Bears on Sunday would create a three-way tie, setting the stage for a dramatic finish. In Week 18, Tampa Bay will take on Carolina while New Orleans will be in Atlanta.
  • A Saints (7-8) loss would all but eliminate them from playoff contention even though they are just a game behind the teams that currently possess the last two wild card spots in the NFC.
  • Baker Mayfield has thrown nine touchdown passes with just one interception during the Buccaneers’ current four-game winning streak. He has never won five straight games in his six-year career.
  • Derek Carr has six touchdown passes in his last two games after averaging one over the first 13.
  • Tampa Bay defeated New Orleans 26-9 back in Week 4. The Bucs held the Saints to 197 total yards and forced three turnovers.

  • If the Eagles simply beat a three-win Cardinals team and the New York Giants in Week 18, they will clinch the NFC East. 
  • Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has been in a funk for the past six weeks, throwing just five touchdowns to five interceptions during that stretch. He has had a passer rating over 90.0 just once during that stretch. 
  • The Eagles have allowed at least 20 points in five consecutive games and are averaging 30 points against in those games.
  • The Eagles are 0-4 against the spread in their past four games. The Eagles are double-digit favorites on Sunday. 
  • At 3-12, the Cardinals own the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Only the Carolina Panthers have fewer wins this year. 

San Francisco 49ers at Washington Commanders

  • San Francisco can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win and losses by Detroit and Philadelphia.
  • The 49ers were held under 20 points for just the fourth time last week against the Ravens this season. They’ve lost all four of those games.
  • Brock Purdy left the matchup with the Ravens late with an injury (stinger) and did not return to the game. He was medically cleared to return, but the game was already out of hand. He’s expected to return in Week 17.
  • Washington currently holds a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

  • Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua needs just 129 receiving yards to break the single-season rookie record of 1,455 set by Ja’Marr Chase in 2021.
  • Kyren Williams is one of four running backs who has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season. The Rams running back has rushed for 1,057 yards in just 11 games.
  • The Rams (8-7) have won five of their last six and can clinch a playoff berth with a win and either a Seattle loss or a Green Bay/Minnesota tie.
  • The Giants (5-10) are currently projected to pick fifth, according to Austin Mock’s NFL projection model. It would be the fourth time since 2018 that New York has picked inside the top five.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

  • The Bills have put themselves into a win-and-in situation, needing to beat the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins over the next two weeks to clinch a playoff spot.
  • Buffalo is a double-digit favorite against the Patriots on Sunday, but it is 0-3 this season in games where it is favored by 10 or more points.
  • The Bills have failed to reach the over in their past six home games. The over/under for Sunday is 41 points.
  • A Buffalo win on Sunday and a Miami loss would set up a winner-take-all Week 18 game between the two teams for the top spot in the AFC East and an all-important home playoff game.
  • The Patriots own the No. 4 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft after beating Denver last week.

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

  • The Texans are in a three-way tie with the Jaguars and Colts with matching 8-7 records. Houston would be knocked from AFC South division title contention with a loss and win by either Indianapolis or Jacksonville.
  • Houston would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss and wins by Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Buffalo.
  • Texans rookie quarterback CJ Stroud has missed the last two games due to a concussion but returned to practice on Wednesday.
  • Derrick Henry needs 28 yards to surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the fifth time in the past six seasons. Henry played in just eight games in 2021 due to injury and rushed for 937 yards.

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens

  • Baltimore (12-3) can clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win and get the coveted first-round bye.
  • The Ravens’ defense has held opponents to 20 or fewer points in five of their last seven games and 10 times this season.
  • Miami (11-4) can clinch the AFC East title with a win, a Buffalo loss or a tie by either.
  • Tua Tagovailoa has thrown for multiple touchdowns in just two of Miami’s last seven games.
  • The Dolphins’ Week 16 win against the Cowboys is their only win this season over a team with a winning record.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks

  • The Steelers scored 30 points in a game for the first time this season thanks to a huge game from Mason Rudolph.
  • Even with all of his struggles and the inconsistency of the offense wide receiver George Pickens was still able to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season thanks to Saturday’s huge game.
  • The Seahawks snapped their four-game losing streak to keep their playoff hopes alive by winning back-to-backs with last minute touchdowns.
  • The Seahawks enter the week in the seventh spot in the NFC Wild Card race while the Steelers are on the outside in the AFC, but still in a three-way tie at 8-7 with Indianaplis and Houston.

  • Kansas City (9-6) can clinch a playoff berth and AFC West title with a win or tie. It would be the eighth consecutive division title for the Chiefs.
  • Since a six-game winning streak from Weeks 2-7, the Chiefs have gone 3-5.
  • Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce hasn’t caught a touchdown in the last five games and hasn’t had more than 100 yards receiving in a game since late October.
  • The Chiefs have scored over 20 points in just two of their last six games.
  • Cincinnati would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss and wins by Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

  • The Broncos have dropped back-to-back games to fall well back in the AFC wild card chase.
  • Denver’s last win came in Week 14 on the road against the Chargers. The Broncos have a chance at their first season sweep of their division rivals since the 2019 season.
  • Los Angeles is trying to avoid its first four-game losing streak since Weeks 2-5 of the 2020 season.
  • Denver has the second-worst rushing defense in the league (141.1 yards allowed per game) but the Chargers’ ground game has been stuck in neutral recently. The team is averaging 73.8 rushing yards per game this month.
  • Los Angeles running back Austin Ekeler has produced just six touchdowns in 12 games after reaching the end zone 38 times in the previous two seasons combined (33 games).

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

  • The Packers and Vikings are tied with identical 7-8 records.
  • The Vikings have had four different starting quarterbacks this season, including Week 17 starter Nick Mullens.
  • Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson had his best game since returning from a hamstring injury last week catching six passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.
  • In a bizarre twist, the Packers will be without cornerback Jaire Alexander, who was suspended for joining the coin toss last week despite not being a team captain.
  • Packers quarterback Jordan Love has more touchdowns and fewer interceptions in his first full season as a starter than Patrick Mahomes this year.

(Photo of Lamar Jackson: Rob Carr / Getty Images)