NFL Playoffs: With the culmination of Week 17, the playoff fields are nearly set. Since the New York Jets lost a do-or-die game to the Buffalo Bills, the Pittsburgh Steelers have clinched the final berth with their crushing 28-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Let’s run down the playoff brackets:
Top Seed: Carolina Panthers (15-1): For the first time in franchise history, the Panthers will have home-field advantage all through the postseason.
Second Seed: Arizona Cardinals (13-3) – After clinching the NFC West and earning a first-round bye, the Cardinals seemingly went through the motions against Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Third Seed: Minnesota Vikings (11-5) – The Vikings have won the NFC North title with a 20-13 win over Green Bay Packers. .
Fourth Seed: Washington Redskins (9-7) – Washington clinched the NFC East by defeating the embattled Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. With the win, they locked up the fourth seed.
Fifth Seed: Green Bay Packers (10-6) – The Packers slipped to the fifth seed after losing to the Vikings earlier tonight. They failed to claim the NFC North title at Lambeau Field.
Sixth Seed: Seattle Seahawks (10-6) – With the Vikings defeating the Packers, the Seahawks remain sixth seed. If Packers could have defeated Vikings, Seahawks would have climbed one spot.
Top Seed: Denver Broncos (12-4) – Peyton Manning came off the bench to engineer 20 second-half points as the Broncos claimed their fifth straight AFC West title with a crushing win over Chargers.
Second Seed: New England Patriots (12-4) – The AFC East Champions shockingly lost two consecutive games and failed to clinch home-field advantage. However, they still get a first-round bye.
Third Seed: Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) – The Bengals have had the most tumultuous journey to this stage. Despite clinching the third seed, they face a stern test in a wild-card week against Steelers.
Fourth Seed: Houston Texans (9-7) – Driven by JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, the Texans won the AFC South with a 30-6 win over Jaguars on Sunday. They will now host the Chiefs in the wild-card round.
Fifth Seed: Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) – The Chiefs are entering the playoffs with a 10-game winning streak. Nobody expected them to make it this far. Despite the streak, they failed to win the West.
Sixth Seed: Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) – The Steelers benefited from the Jets’ upset loss to the Bills. After crushing the Browns 28-12, they did just about enough to secure a final playoff berth.