NFL playoffs: who needs what to clinch
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
NEW YORK (AP) — Three division titles remain undecided heading into the final week of the NFL season: the AFC South, NFC South and NFC West.
Indianapolis wins the AFC South by beating visiting Tennessee on Sunday, or if Jacksonville loses at Houston. The winner of Sunday’s game in Seattle between the Rams and Seahawks wins the NFC West.
While the AFC wild cards belong to the Jets and either the Ravens or Steelers — whichever doesn’t take the AFC North — five teams have shots at NFC wild cards: Atlanta, New Orleans, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants.
So the AFC is not very complicated, with New England the East winner, Kansas City champion of the West, and either Baltimore or Pittsburgh taking the North. The Steelers hold the tiebreaker over the Ravens and are at Cleveland on Sunday. Baltimore hosts Cincinnati.
The Chiefs and the AFC South winner will host a wild-card round playoff game.
Things are more unsettled in the NFC, where Chicago (North) and Philadelphia (East) own division titles. Seattle (6-9) could become the first division winner in NFL history with a losing record if it beats St. Louis (7-8) in their finale, which has been flexed to a Sunday night game.
New Orleans defeated Atlanta 17-14 on Monday night to clinch a playoff spot. The Falcons can still wrap up their first division crown since 2004 and home field through the NFC playoffs by knocking off two-win Carolina at home in the final week of the season.
The Packers (9-6) have the inside track for a wild card — win and they are in. The Giants and Bucs must win Sunday to have a shot at a wild card. Tampa Bay travels to New Orleans, Green Bay hosts archrival Chicago, while New York is at Washington to close out the regular season.
No first-round byes have been clinched in the NFC.
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