NFL playoff picture: First look at the AFC and NFC field and matchups

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What changes should the NFL make in 2017?

Although six of the eight divisions were decided in the first 16 weeks of the season, the NFC North and AFC West needed one final Sunday of games to crown a champion. But division titles were just one aspect of the drama surrounding the last day of this year’s playoff race, as the teams whose spots are already secured jockeyed for seeding and teams played for their lives on the NFC wild-card bubble.

The first matchups are set: On wild-card weekend, the Raiders will play the Texans, and the Steelers will host the Dolphins. The Patriots and Chiefs will be waiting for the winners the following weekend. In the NFC, the Lions will travel to Seattle, and the Packers will host the Giants, with the Cowboys and Falcons watching from home. The full 2017 playoff schedule is listed here.

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Here’s a quick look at the 2017 playoff field, along with the seeds and standings that came down to the final day of the season.

AFC

1
1New England Patriots*
record: 14–2 (AFC: 11–1)

AFC East champion. Week 17: Beat Dolphins, 35–14.

2
2Kansas City Chiefs*
record: 12–4 (AFC: 9–3)

AFC West champion. Week 17: Beat Chargers, 37–27.

3
3Pittsburgh Steelers*
record: 11–5 (AFC: 9–3)

AFC North champions. Week 17: Beat Browns, 27–24.

4
4Houston Texans*
record: 9–7 (AFC: 7–5)

AFC South champions. Week 17: Lost to Titans, 24–17.

5
5Oakland Raiders*
record: 12–4 (AFC: 9–3)

First wild card. Week 17: Lost to Broncos, 24–6.

6
6Miami Dolphins*
record: 10–6 (AFC: 7–5)

Second wild card. Week 17: Lost to Patriots, 35–14. 

1
1Dallas Cowboys*
record: 13–3 (NFC: 9–3)

NFC East champions. Week 17: Lost to Eagles, 27–13.

2
2Atlanta Falcons*
RECORD: 11–5 (NFC: 9–3)

NFC South champions. Week 17: Beat Saints, 38–32.

3
3seattle seahawks*
Record: 10-5-1 (NFC: 6-5-1)

NFC West champions. Week 17: Beat 49ers, 25–23.

4
4green bay packers*
RECORD: 10–6 (NFC: 8–4)

NFC North champions. Week 17: Beat Lions, 31–24.

5
5New York Giants*
record: 11–5 (NFC: 8–4)

First wild card. Week 17: Beat Redskins, 19–10.

6
detroit lions*
record: 9–7 (NFC: 7–5)

Second wild card. Week 17: Lost to Packers, 31–24.

A quick rundown of the seeds and division titles that were finalized in Week 17:

The AFC's top two seeds: The Patriots clinched the AFC's No. 1 seed and home field advantage with their win over the Dolphins. The Raiders needed both a win and a Patriots loss to grab the top spot. The Chiefs leapfrogged the Raiders for the AFC West title and the No. 2 seed when they beat the Chargers and the Raiders lost to the Broncos.

The AFC's wild cards: Miami’s loss to New England locked in the Dolphins at the No. 6 seed, leaving the fifth seed to whichever of the Chiefs and Raiders didn’t win the AFC West. The Dolphins will play the No. 3 seed Steelers in Pittsburgh on wild-card weekend, while Oakland will play the Texans in Houston.

The NFC’s No. 2 seed: The Falcons clinched a first-round bye with their 38–32 win over the Saints, but a loss would have opened the door for the Seahawks to grab the 2-seed with their win over San Francisco. If both Atlanta and Seattle had lost, Detroit could have jumped to No. 2 with a win over Green Bay.

The NFC's final wild-card spot: The winner of Packers-Lions wins the NFC North, but the Redskins’ loss to the Giants secured both teams’ spots in the playoffs before the game began. The Buccaneers were extreme long shots to sneak into the field at the start of the day, but they would have grabbed the No. 6 seed with a win over Carolina plus wins by all of the following teams: Kansas City, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, Tennessee, Indianapolis, and a Redskins-Giants tie. The Cowboys’ loss in the early window sealed Tampa Bay’s fate.

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