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Week 18 NFL Playoff preview footage: A team-by-team guide

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After one of the most uncertain periods in modern NFL history, with a game suspended and then canceled, Week 18 will continue as planned with the good news that Bills safety Damar Hamlin is making rapid progress after an injury potentially fatal.

Thursday, the league announcement that the games would go as planned and that the Bills-Bengals game would not be made up. The no. 1 seed in the AFC will be awarded based on winning percentage, and the conference championship game may be played at a neutral venue, depending on the teams involved.

As the NFL noted in its announcement, any decision it might have made would have been accompanied by “competitive inequities.” But for most teams, the playoff picture is unchanged. In the NFC, three teams — the Lions, Packers and Seahawks — are vying for the final conference playoff spot. And in the AFC, the Patriots, Dolphins and Steelers are vying for the remaining wildcard spot.

In both conferences, the No. 1 seed remains up for grabs, with the Chiefs and Bills vying for top spot in the AFC, and the Eagles, Cowboys and 49ers battling it out for the NFC

The tables below plot the remaining playoff paths for each team. They list all the ways a team can qualify for the playoffs — or be eliminated from it. The tree diagrams start with a given team and list the potential outcomes of the games that could matter to that team, in chronological order from left to right.

We’ll update them throughout the weekend, and they’ll all link to ours. interactive playoff simulatorwhich allows you to explore any scenario.

A note: the text does not take into account the links. But we’ve included a button with each tree if you want to explore how the ties affect each team’s path to the playoffs.

AFC East

Buffalo Tickets (12-3)

Game remaining: Patriots

The Bills host the Patriots and can get either No. 1, no. 2 or No. 3 seed in the AFC Since there were no results from the Bills-Bengals game on Monday night, the Bills need help securing the No. 3 seed. A win coupled with a Raiders win on Saturday will give the Bills the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.

New England Patriots (8-8)

Remaining game: at Bills

The Patriots are hoping to clinch the No. 7 seed, the last AFC playoff spot. They visit the Bills and must win. (If they do, they can play them again in a week if the Bills finish as the No. 2 seed.) If the Patriots lose, they can still advance if the Titans, Dolphins and Steelers also lose.

Miami Dolphins (8-8)

Game remaining: Jets

The Dolphins’ Week 17 loss to the Patriots put them outside the playoff bracket, but they still have a path to the No. 1. 7 seed. They have to beat the Jets and hope the Patriots lose to the Bills 12-3 in Buffalo. Otherwise, they are out.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

Game remaining: Ravens

Because there were no results in Cincinnati’s game against Buffalo, the Bengals can’t get the Game No. 1. 1 seed or a bye week. If they win and the Bills lose, the Bengals will be the No. 2 seed, hosting the Patriots, Dolphins, Steelers or Jaguars. Otherwise, they’ll be the No. 3 seed and host of the Ravens or Chargers.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

Remaining match: at the Bengals

The Ravens are in the playoffs, but can’t catch the Bengals in the AFC North. They will enter the playoffs as No. 5 or No. 6 seeds.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)

Remaining Game: Browns

Like the Patriots and Dolphins, the Steelers have a path to last place in the AFC, representing the No. 7 seed at 9-8. But of all the teams on the brink of elimination, the Steelers’ path is the narrowest. They have to win — they host the Browns 7-9 — and hope for losses to the Dolphins and Patriots.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)

Game remaining: Titans

The Jaguars will play for the AFC South title when they host the Titans on Saturday. A win gets them the No. 4 seed and a home game against the Ravens or Chargers. They can still make the playoffs if they lose, as the No. 1. 7 seed, if the Dolphins, Steelers and Patriots lose all of their games.

Tennessee Titans (7-9)

Remaining game: at Jaguars

The Titans are playing for the division title and a playoff berth. If they beat the Jaguars, they’re in and will host the Ravens or Chargers in the wild card round. If they lose, they are eliminated.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (3-13)

Game remaining: at Raiders

The Chiefs can do no worse than the AFC No. 2 seed and can earn a first-round bye with a win over the Raiders. If they lose, they can still get the No. 1 seed if the Patriots win on the road against the Bills.

Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)

Game remaining: at the Broncos

The Chargers are as a wild card team. A win over the Broncos on Sunday would give them the No. 1. 5 seed and a playoff opener against Jacksonville or Tennessee. On the other hand, a loss and a win for the Ravens would relegate the Chargers to the No. 1. 6 seed, leaving them to face a tough opponent — the Bengals or the Bills — in the first round.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (3-13)

Game remaining: Giants

For weeks now, the Eagles have been on the verge of clinching the division and the No. 1 seed in the NFC, with a bye week and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. But they lost two in a row, leaving several possibilities open.

A win or tie against the Giants gives them the No. 1 seed. A loss to the Cowboys gives the Eagles the division title and at least No. 1. 2 seeds. A loss and a win for the Cowboys would relegate the Eagles to first place. 5 seeds; they would visit Tom Brady and the Bucs in Tampa Bay during the wildcard round.

Dallas Cowboys (12-4)

Game remaining: at Commanders

The Cowboys kept their hopes of winning the division alive with a victory last week. If they win again and the Eagles lose, they’ll clinch the NFC East title and can get a first-round bye if the 49ers lose as well. If the Cowboys lose, they’ll be number one. 5 seed, visiting Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs.

New York Giants (9-6-1)

Remaining match: at the Eagles

The Giants will be the no. 6 seed no matter what happens in Week 18. They will visit the No. 6 seed. 3 seed – either the 49ers or the Vikings – in the first round of the playoffs.

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

Remaining game: at Bears

After a disastrous loss to the Packers on Sunday, the Vikings are likely to drop to the No. 1. 3 seed, welcoming the Giants to the wildcard round. If they win and the 49ers lose, they will be the No. 2 seed, hosting the No. 7 seed (the Packers, Lions or Seahawks).

Green Bay Packers (8-8)

Game remaining: Lions

It’s simple for the Packers: a win makes it win #1. 7 seeds. They would visit the 49ers, Vikings, Eagles or Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs. A loss or a tie eliminates them. They host the Lions 8-8, who are hoping for their first place in the playoffs since 2016 season.

Detroit Lions (8-8)

Remaining game: at Packers

By the time their game against the Packers begins Sunday night, the Lions could already be out of contention for the playoffs. But if the Rams beat the Seahawks and the Lions beat the Packers in Green Bay, the Lions will get their first playoff spot. since 2016 season.

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)

Game remaining: at the Falcons

The Bucs clinched the NFC South Division title and will host the No. 5 seed – likely the Cowboys – in the first round. Nothing that happens in week 18 will change that.

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers (12-4)

Game remaining: Cardinals

The 49ers won the NFC West. A win and a win for the Giants over the Eagles on Sunday would give them the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye. Otherwise, they will be No. 2 or No. 3 seed and will open the playoffs against the Giants, Seahawks or the winner of the Lions-Packers game.

Seattle Seahawks (8-8)

Game remaining: Rams

The Seahawks aren’t in control of their playoff run, but they still have a chance to clinch the NFC’s final wild card spot. They will have to win at home against the Rams and then hope for a Lions win over the Packers on Sunday night. .

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