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NFL playoff picture: Best, worst matchups based on AFC, NFC seeding for Week 17

The NFL playoff image is sort of full and shortly the NFL playoffs will start after the 2020 season. However this 12 months, the league’s playoff seeding units up for a wilder postseason, with now three wild playing cards becoming a member of 4 division winners within the each the AFC and NFC tournaments towards Tremendous Bowl 55.

With groups seeded No. 1-7 in each conferences, now just one staff will get a bye together with home-field benefit in every convention. One other twist is the actual fact internet hosting the sport does not include the identical benefit with groups various from restricted to no in-person attendance. Whereas climate can be an element, ultimately, there ought to be much more even matchups than ordinary, organising one of the crucial thrilling NFL playoffs ever.

Taking a look at who’s positioned to be within the playoffs now within the AFC and NFC, here is a breakdown how groups would possibly get a break with their opponents — or run into an impediment they want to keep away from on the postseason path:

MORE: Complete playoff picture for Week 17

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AFC playoff matchups

1. Chiefs (14-1)

Absolute best matchup: Browns. The Chiefs would welcome going through an inexperienced playoff staff within the divisional spherical. The Browns have been fairly good towards the run, however they’re restricted in defending the cross away from Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. Patrick Mahomes would simply decide them half and put Baker Mayfield in uncomfortable catchup mode.

Worst potential matchup: Titans. The Titans are pesky. There is no method the Chiefs, after needing a giant comeback to beat them within the AFC title sport final 12 months, need to take care of them once more early with a Tremendous Bowl return on the road. The Titans can run the ball effectively with Derrick Henry, and each A.J. Brown and Corey Davis could make huge performs for Ryan Tannehill. The Titans are additionally able to successful a shootout, regardless of how unhealthy their protection can be towards Mahomes.

2. Payments (12-3)

Absolute best matchup: Browns. The Browns are stable towards the run, however once more, they have a largely weak cross rush and largely shaky protection. The Payments, just like the Chiefs, do not care in the event that they run the ball historically effectively once they have the large arm and powerful legs of Josh Allen. Defensively, Mayfield could be challenged by good protection behind enhancing strain packages that capitalizes on errors.

Worst potential matchup: Colts. The Colts would keep on with the run to work on the Payments’ greatest defensive weak spot. In addition they can exploit the Payments’ points in masking tight ends. Defensively, the Colts’ zone protection would drive Allen to maintain drives with short-to-intermediate passes. 

3. Steelers (12-3)

Absolute best matchup: Dolphins. The Steelers at this level must face one other defensive-minded staff that leans towards making an attempt to win low-scoring battles of attrition, as a result of with Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles, they are not geared up to win any sort of shootout.

Worst potential matchup: Ravens. The Steelers did beat the Ravens each occasions. However it wasn’t simple, needing a giant comeback within the first assembly and barely holding off a Lamar Jackson-less offense within the second assembly. The Ravens are more healthy and taking part in significantly better. It is arduous to beat any staff 3 times in a season. So Pittsburgh does not desire a No. 2 vs. No. 7 or No. 3 vs. No. 6 matchup to guide it to Baltimore.

4. Titans (10-5)

Absolute best matchup: Payments. There was proof of this when Tannehill and Henry had been an excessive amount of for Buffalo to deal with within the regular-season assembly. Just like the Colts, they’re constructed to take advantage of a few of the Payments’ shortcomings. One can’t ignore the 42-16 drubbing from October.

Worst potential matchup: Steelers. The Titans went down 24-7 at halftime within the regular-season assembly earlier than falling simply brief with a rally within the second half. The Steelers can include Henry and when that occurs, Tannehill can wrestle with strain. Plus, the Titans’ secondary can’t cowl the Steelers’ receivers on shorter routes effectively.

5. Dolphins (10-5)

Absolute best matchup: Steelers.  The Steelers might want to grind out video games within the playoffs, and with the higher general protection, can out-grind the Dolphins and make it powerful on Tua Tagovailoa on the street.

Worst potential matchup: Steelers.  What the? The Dolphins, on the identical time, additionally would welcome going through essentially the most inept offense within the AFC discipline that is not them. They merely can’t dangle with the Payments, Chiefs, Colts or Titans in a shootout.

6. Ravens (10-5)

Absolute best matchup: Payments.  The Payments’ protection is not actually constructed effectively to cease the operating of Lamar Jackson, J.Ok. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. In addition they will not have the ability to cowl Mark Andrews effectively. The Ravens’ secondary also can make it difficult for Allen’s targets, led by Stefon Diggs. An Allen-Jackson duel could be epic in a No. 2-No. 7 sport.

Worst potential matchup: Titans . Bear in mind the Titans took down the Patriots and Ravens again to again earlier than falling brief towards the Chiefs in a shock run to the AFC championship sport. The Titans adopted that up with a 30-24 time beyond regulation win, capping a giant comeback this November.

7. Browns (10-5)

Absolute best matchup: Titans. The Browns beat the Titans 41-35 in October with an entire efficiency wire-to-wire on offense, led by Mayfield taking part in like a passer possessed. Their improved run protection helps towards Henry and so does the Browns’ willingness to be run-heavy themselves and get aggressive when wanted with the intermediate-to-deep passing sport round Mayfield.

Worst potential matchup: Payments. Including to the flip aspect of this from above, Allen merely will outplay Mayfield when it comes all the way down to it, possessing extra offensive firepower.

8. Colts (10-5)

Absolute best matchup: Payments. Including to the flip aspect of the this from above, Frank Reich, Nick Sirianni and Matt Eberflus would game-plan effectively towards Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier and Brian Daboll. Jonathan Taylor could be powerful to cease for the Payments’ protection.

Worst potential matchup:  Steelers. The Colts did permit a giant comeback to blow a 24-7 lead within the Week 16 assembly, a loss that has put them in precarious place to not make the palyoffs. However they nonetheless had some huge success at occasions with the operating sport and it took the easiest of Ben Roethlisberger’s passing to beat them.

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NFC playoff matchups

1. Packers (12-3)

Absolute best matchup: Washington. Washington has strain protection and may drive errors. However Aaron Rodgers would not give them the prospect along with his hyper effectivity to take advantage of loads of holes in WFT’s again seven. There’s additionally no probability WFT scores sufficient to beat Rodgers within the divisional spherical.

Worst potential matchup: Buccaneers. The Bucs demolished the Packers 38-20 within the first assembly. The rematch vs. Tom Brady would not really feel comfy, both.

2. Saints (11-4)

Absolute best matchup: Bears. The Saints would welcome this NFC North opponent after dropping to the Vikings at house final postseason and in two of the previous three playoffs. New Orleans has deal with on easy methods to grind to beat Chicago with the operating sport and calculated photographs within the passing sport, now entrenched in its present successful system towards anybody. The Saints would include David Montgomery on the bottom and get after Mitchell Trubisky to drive huge errors.

Worst potential matchup: Rams. Think about taking part in the staff that price you a Tremendous Bowl look two years in the past once more at house while you least need to have them over. Drew Brees’ struggles within the passing sport could be absolutely exploited by the Rams’ nasty protection, and Sean McVay would discover the proper holes within the Saints’ protection.

3. Seahawks (11-4)

Absolute best matchup: Rams. The Seahawks cannot really feel completely different after successful the rematch in Week 16 at Seattle. There’s some familiarity there and there is nonetheless a giant QB disparity between Russell Wilson and Jared Goff, who would possibly must play via a damaged thumb come playoff time. Additionally, the Seahawks’ operating sport and protection are performing like they need to be beating the Rams persistently once more.

Worst potential matchup: Buccaneers. The Buccaneers can cease the run, exploit the Seahawks’ issues in cross protection and get after Wilson with pash rush. if Carlton Davis is wholesome, additionally they would have a giant cornerback who can include D.Ok. Metcalf.

4. NFC East Champions (below .500)

Absolute best matchup: Rams.  Only a week in the past, going through the Rams appeared like a nightmare, given they beat the Cowboys, Giants and Washington throughout the common season. However now their offense is sputtering and the protection has proven extra dents. For the NFC East winners to tug of a giant house upset within the first spherical, they should win an unpleasant sport. Additionally, the choice is fairly terrible.

Worst potential matchup: Buccaneers. That is that various, going through Brady and red-hot Tampa Bay. The Giants performed the Bucs powerful, however the Cowboys and Washington could be no contest. The Bucs will get a large break within the first spherical because the No. 5 and can take full benefit of it to make all the upper seeds sweat.

5. Buccaneers (10-5)

Absolute best matchup: Seahawks. Actually, each Seattle and Inexperienced Bay don’t match up effectively in any respect towards Brady’s staff when it’s all put collectively and never making errors.

Worst potential matchup: Saints. If the Bucs go bust as a playoff staff with main upside in 2020, it could be completely due to their NFC South rivals.

6. Rams (9-6)

Absolute best matchup: NFC East champions. The Rams would nonetheless be assured in successful an unpleasant rematch vs. the choice of going through both the Saints or the Seahawks.

Worst potential matchup: Saints. So yeah, the sensation is mutual. You work the Saints would keep away from testing the Rams’ cross protection downfield and use the operating sport and brief passing sport effectively to their benefit right here. This might be a fairly good tight matchup if it occurs, assuming Goff is wholesome sufficient to provide it a go subsequent week.

7. Bears (8-7)

Absolute best matchup: Saints. The sensation is mutual right here, too. The Bears and Saints performed a stable regular-season sport that was determined in time beyond regulation, with New Orleans successful 26-23 to start November. Not taking part in in Chicago could be trickier for the Bears, however they’ve the proper adjusted make-up offensively and defensively 

Worst potential matchup: Seahawks. Touring to Seattle could be a fairly tough reward for stepping into the playoffs. Wilson vs. Trubisky feels just like the third version of Rodgers vs. Trubisky. Seattle’s protection is taking part in effectively sufficient to chill off Chicago’s offense. The Bears’ banged-up secondary will not have the ability to deal with Metcalf or Tyler Lockett.

8. Cardinals (8-7)

Absolute best matchup: Seahawks. Kyler Murray felt actually comfy dueling them twice. The Cardinals’ passing sport is coming again alive on the proper time to take advantage of Seattle’s protection effectively once more.

Worst potential matchup: Saints. The Saints can include their operating sport and give you some inventive strain seems to be for Murray. The Saints additionally may have every kind of success transferring the ball in numerous methods on the Cardinals’ protection.

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