NFL playoff scenarios for Week 17
The NFL playoff picture will not be settled fully until Sunday night's Cowboys-Redskins game, but there was plenty to keep track of earlier in the day. The full breakdown of Week 17 playoff scenarios can be found here, but we'll also keep you apprised of all the important results ...
• Denver has home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs: The red-hot Broncos got the help they needed from the Colts -- Indianapolis' win gave Denver control of its own destiny in the AFC. The Broncos then took advantage by pasting Kansas City, 38-3, to move to 13-3, one game better than Houston and New England. With that, the Broncos clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage until the playoffs.
• New England also secured a first-round bye: New England beat Miami, 28-0, to finish the regular season 13-3. Because of an earlier win over the Texans, that means that the Patriots are the AFC's No. 2 seed and will enjoy a first-round bye in the playoffs.
• Houston will host Cincinnati next week: The struggling Texans lost in Indianapolis, opening the door for Denver and New England to waltz into first-round byes. Because of their late stumble, the Texans now have to win an extra game to reach the Super Bowl -- and will have to hit the road in the divisional round. Houston will play Cincinnati to open the postseason, in a rematch of a 31-10 Texans win during last season's wild-card round.
• Baltimore is the No. 4 seed: With a win and a Patriots loss, Baltimore would have moved up to the third spot in the AFC. By losing to the Bengals, though, the Ravens locked themselves into the No. 4 spot ... and a first-round matchup with the Colts.
• The 49ers have clinched the NFC West (and the No. 2 seed): San Francisco rolled Arizona on Sunday to wrap up a division title. Their celebratory day got an even bigger boost just moments after that game ended, when the Vikings kicked a field goal to beat the Packers, thus moving San Francisco into the NFC's No. 2 spot.
Thanks to the move, the 49ers will enjoy a bye next week, before hosting a game in the divisional round.
• The Redskins are the NFC East champions: Washington won its seventh straight game Sunday, dropping Dallas to take the division title. That NFC East triumph will let the Redskins stay home for a home playoff game, their first since 1999. As the No. 4 seed Washington will open with the Seahawks, the higher of two NFC wild-card clubs.
• Seattle is the No. 5 seed: The Seahawks had a chance to climb as high as the No. 2 seed on Sunday, but San Francisco's win means that Pete Carroll's team will have to settle for a wild-card spot. Seattle will hit the road in Round 1 against NFC East champion Washington.
• Minnesota's in, Chicago's out: The Bears got the win they needed early Sunday, holding off Detroit's upset attempt. However, Minnesota used a last-second field goal to win its game with Green Bay -- in the process, clinching a playoff spot and eliminating the Bears. Minnesota's reward for that win: A visit to Green Bay next week.
Washington had a chance to clinch a berth prior to its Sunday night game, but Chicago's win took that possibility off the table. • The defending Super Bowl champions are out: The Giants did their part Sunday, routing the Eagles by 35. But Chicago's two-point win over Detroit eliminated New York nonetheless, meaning a new team will hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy this season.