NFL Playoffs Picture Every Team Can Still Win The AFC North

Updated NFL Playoffs Picture: Every Team Can Still Win The AFC North

The most interesting division race – and probably the most mediocre one – is from the AFC North as every team in it – Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland — has a chance to win it and ensure at least one home playoff game. Yet every team could miss the playoffs, too (although obviously one has to win it). let’s take a look at the following analysis to help you place your bets on the NFL.

AFC North Odds for the NFL Playoffs

The Cincinnati Bengals are atop the AFC North at 9-6 following a 41-21 blowout of Baltimore on Sunday. Bengals QB Joe Burrow passed for 525 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 143.2 rating, and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase (125 receiving yards) and Tee Higgins (194 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions) each surpassed 100 receiving yards.

Burrow’s 525 passing yards were the fourth-most in a single game in NFL history, trailing only Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin BROCKLIN (554 passing yards on September 28, 1951) and Warren Moon (527 on December 16, 1990), as well as Matt Schaub (527 on November 18, 2012). Burrow has three career games with at least 400 passing yards and three touchdown passes, joining Dam Marino as the only quarterbacks with three such games in their first two career seasons all-time.

Cincinnati would win the North either with a victory in Week 17 vs. Kansas City or Week 18 vs. Cleveland – or one loss each by the Ravens, Steelers and Browns. Cincinnati last played in the playoffs to cap the 2015 season, losing at home to the Steelers. Burrow isn’t deterred by the lack of experience beyond the confusion of the regular season.

“The last three weeks for us have been playoff games,” Burrow said. “The next two are playoff games for us as well. If we don’t win one of these next two, we’re not going to be in. I think we’ve had a lot of high-pressure moments this year.”

Baltimore (8-7) lost its fourth straight game Sunday as it played without QB Lamar Jackson again due to injury. The Ravens would win the North by winning Week 17 vs. the Rams and Week 18 vs. the Steelers and Cincinnati losing both of its game. Baltimore is the only team in the division that will finish the regular season with two home games. The Ravens will get a wild-card spot at worst if they win their remaining two games and the Dolphins and Raiders each take a loss the rest of the way.

The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) were routed 36-10 in Kansas City on Sunday and are third in the division. But during a weekend in which the Chargers, Browns and Ravens also lost, the Steelers didn’t lose any ground in the race for the No. 7 seed. All they need to earn it is to win their final two games and have three other teams lose once each over the next 14 days. To win the North, Pittsburgh must beat the Browns and have the Bengals lost to the Chiefs and Browns.  The Steelers already beat both of their final two opponents once this season.

Pittsburgh is in a unique position in that it won’t have to worry about any tiebreakers assuming that they remain the only AFC team with a tie. If they win two and finish 9-7-1, the Steelers would make the playoffs over any 9-8 team.

Cleveland (7-8) lost in Green Bay on Christmas and would win the North by beating both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the Bengals losing out and the Ravens losing once. The loser of the Browns-Steelers Monday night game in Week 17 would be eliminated.

The Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) would be the AFC’s top seed if they win out. The Chiefs became the first AFC team to officially make the playoffs — as well as win their division — after Sunday’s dominating victory over the Steelers.

The Green Bay Packers (12-3) would be the NFC’s top seed if they win out. They are 7-0 at Lambeau Field this season and 20-3 since coach Matt LaFleur was hired in 2019. And now Green Bay can clinch the No. 1 overall seed in Week 17 with a win over the Vikings and a Cowboys loss to the Cardinals.

Kansas City is a +340 favorite to win Super Bowl 56 and Green Bay is next at +370.


 

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