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Breaking Down the NFL Playoff Hunt ahead of Week 18

It’s hard to believe we’re only a few days away from the end of the 2021 NFL regular season. The playoff picture is mostly in focus, but there are still several teams battling for postseason bids. We could see the seeding flip dramatically too if some playoff teams drop their final games.

Five teams in the AFC have already clinched postseason berths. Remember, the league recently expanded from six to seven playoff spots per conference, and now only the top seeds get bye weeks. Five teams remain in play for the AFC’s final two spots. Meanwhile, two teams have a shot at clinching the NFC’s final playoff spot.

Let’s check out the various clinching scenarios and see how the seeding could change.

Head over to our Strategies Page for some tips if you want to get in on the betting action for Week 18.

NFL Playoff Battle

AFC Standings

The top spot in the AFC is still up for grabs. Tennessee (11-5, first seed), Kansas City (11-5, second seed), Cincinnati (10-6, third seed), and New England (10-6, fifth seed) can still claim the first seed. It’s a win and clinch situation for the Titans. Kansas City gets the bye if they win and Mike Vrabel’s squad loses.

Cincinnati gets the top spot with a win and losses by the other three contenders. Bill Belichick and the Patriots could swoop in and nab the bye week if they win and the Bills, Chiefs, and Titans lose. Buffalo (10-6, fourth seed) is currently ahead of New England in the AFC East.

The Kansas City Chiefs can still earn the AFC’s bye week with a win and a Tennessee loss.

The Baltimore Ravens (8-8), Indianapolis Colts (9-7), Las Vegas Raiders (9-7), Los Angeles Chargers (9-7), and Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) are still in the playoff hunt.

Indianapolis and Jonathan Taylor hold all of the power. They clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win over Jacksonville in Week 18. The Colts have lost their last two games in Jacksonville, but I think they’ll snap that streak. Trevor Lawrence only has two passing touchdowns in the past nine weeks.

The winner of the Chargers vs. Raiders game makes the playoffs. Los Angeles can get in with a tie as well. Las Vegas can get lucky and make the postseason if the Colts and Steelers lose.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh play each other in one final AFC North showdown for Ben Roethlisberger. Both franchises are long shots to make the postseason. The Steelers need a win, Colts loss, and the Chargers and Raiders not to tie. The Ravens need a win and losses by the Chargers, Colts, and Dolphins.

Check out the latest odds and props for upcoming football games.

NFC Standings

Green Bay (13-2) and Aaron Rodgers already clinched the top seed in the NFC. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4, third seed) and Dallas Cowboys (11-5, fourth seed) have also clinched their divisions. However, the NFC West remains undecided between the second seed 12-4 Los Angeles Rams and fifth seed 11-5 Arizona Cardinals.


George Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers will play for their playoff lives this weekend.

Kyler Murray and company could clinch their division with a win and Rams loss while Los Angeles only needs a win or a Cardinals loss. Arizona faces Seattle at home while the Rams get San Francisco at home. The 49ers matchup is much more daunting because San Francisco has something to play for.

Looking to get into the betting action? Here are a few sites that could help you out this holiday season.

The Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) have also clinched a playoff spot. They’ll either be the sixth seed or fall behind San Francisco and become the seventh seed.

San Francisco will clinch the sixth seed with a win. They could also make the playoffs if New Orleans loses or ties. The Saints make the playoffs as the seventh seed with a win and 49ers loss. Sean Payton’s squad travels to Atlanta to face the Falcons.

Check out the best football betting sites for the 2021 NFL season. There are also sites to bet on other leagues and sports. 

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