The final week of the NFL regular season is upon us. Only three playoff positions remain to be decided in the last weekend before the postseason. A look at some key games coming up shows what’s possible with the remaining teams that could move on.
Steelers Need a Win and a Lot of Help
On Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Baltimore Ravens in the regular-season finale at M&T Bank Stadium. Pittsburgh needs a win in this game to have any hopes of making it to the playoffs.
The win over Cleveland on Monday assured head coach Mike Tomlin of an NFL record 15 straight years without a losing season as the Steelers are now 8-7-1. The Colts must also lose their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the NFL’s worst record at 2-14, and they also need a win by either the Chargers or Raiders.
This will also likely be the last career game for QB Ben Roethlisberger, who is leaving behind a winning legacy with three Super Bowl appearances and two Lombardi Trophies. He will finish his career ranked fifth all-time passing yards and eighth in passing touchdowns.
49ers and Saints Fight for Last NFC Playoff Spot
The New Orleans Saints will travel to Atlanta in a must-win game if they hope to make the playoffs. The only way they get into the playoffs is if they win this game on Sunday. They also need some help from the Rams, who must win against the 49ers. If the Rams lose, the Saints are out whether they beat the Falcons or not.
The 49ers have the most complicated scenario. They must win against the Rams, and the Saints, Cowboys, and Cardinals must also win. They can also lose to the Rams and still get to the postseason if the Saints and Eagles also lose. If this happens, they will face Tampa Bay in the Wildcard game on the road.
Chargers Either Win or Go Home against Raiders
The Los Angeles Chargers will face the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, with both teams trying to extend their seasons to the playoffs. This will basically be a winner-take-all game for a chance to play next week. The winner will get into the AFC Playoffs.
If the Chargers win, they would be the #7 seed and most likely face the #2 seed Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead next week. However, the Chiefs could still move up to the #1 seed if the Tennessee Titans lose on Sunday to the Houston Texans at home.
The Raiders can still make the playoffs with a loss against Los Angeles. Then, the Steelers must lose against Baltimore, and the Colts must lose their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Then, of course, they need to focus on winning and not consider any other playoff scenario but getting the win.
Colts Have a Shot
For the Colts, the best thing for them to do is beat Jacksonville on Sunday and they’re in. They can also clinch a playoff spot with a tie, and they can still get in with a loss, but Miami would have to beat the New England Patriots, the Raiders would have to win against the Chargers, and the Ravens need to beat the Steelers.
That would drop them to the #7 seed, where they would most likely play the Chiefs in the first round. On the other hand, if New England, Buffalo and Las Vegas win on Sunday, the Colts would be the #6 seed. There are also several ways they can move up to the #5 seed, but they must win on Sunday for any of these scenarios to take place.