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NFL Playoff Picture: Week 17 Unbiased Power Rankings Reveal Who Should Be In And Out

The Falcons can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win, the Packers, Giants and Bucs are fighting for one spot and the biggest games of Week 17. All this and more in the latest Unbiased Power Rankings.

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With one week remaining in another unpredictable NFL season, we are left with seven teams fighting for three playoff spots. The Colts and the Jaguars will clinch the AFC's last open spot while the NFC is a bit more complicated. The Rams and Seahawks play on Sunday night and the winner is in as champion of the NFC West. The last NFC playoff spot will be determined between the Packers, Giants and Buccaneers with only one of those three making it to the NFL's second season. Using the unbiased rankings, I've mapped out what Week 17 will look like and what it means for the final playoff seedings. I bring you, the results.

Unbiased Playoff Picture

Using the Unbiased Power Rankings, this is how we see the final playoff picture looking.

AFC
NFC
Seed
Team
Seed
Team
1
New England Patriots
1
Atlanta Falcons
2
Pittsburgh Steelers
2
Chicago Bears
3
Kansas City Chiefs
3
Philadelphia Eagles
4
Indianapolis Colts
4
St. Louis Rams
5
Baltimore Ravens
5
New Orleans Saints
6
New York Jets
6
Green Bay Packers


Week 17 Expected Recap

In the AFC, the Patriots are the only team locked into their seed. They'll be No. 1 regardless of a loss at home to the Dolphins. The Steelers clinch a first-round bye with a win in Cleveland. The Chiefs beat the Raiders to earn the No. 3 seed. The Colts end Jeff Fisher's Tennessee coaching career and end up as the fourth seed. The Ravens beat the Bengals to secure the fifth seed and the Jets close out the Bills as the No. 6 seed.

In the NFC, The Eagles are locked in as the No. 3 seed so their game against the Cowboys means nothing to the playoff picture. The Falcons clinch home field advantage with a win over the Panthers. With the Falcons and Saints both winning earlier in the day, the Bears have nothing to play for and lose to the Packers, giving them the final playoff spot. The Rams beat the Seahawks on Football Night in America and clinch the NFC West. The Saints knock off the Buccaneers to earn the fifth seed.

Outside Looking In

The AFC playoff teams are all the best six in the conference. No one should have a complaint about not making the postseason. In the NFC, the Giants, Bucs, Redskins and Lions are all better - according to the unbiased rankings - than the expected playoff-bound Rams. I do not think the playoffs should be re-seeded but if there's a vote, the 'ayes' would start in New York and Tampa Bay.


The Biggest Games of Week 17

No. 3: Buccaneers vs, Saints: The Bucs need a lot of help to make the playoffs but it starts with a win in New Orleans.

No. 2: Bears Vs. Packers: With the Falcons and Saints both winning earlier in the day, the Bears have nothing to play for and Packers will still be hungry.

No. 1: Rams Vs. Seahawks: A classic win-and-you're-in game. The winner will likely host the Saints.


AFC Breakdown

Wild Card Weekend:

Jets @ Chiefs: The Jets defense has been exposed of late and Arrowhead is a tough place to play.

Ravens @ Colts: Tow perinial playoff contenders back again.

Divisional Playoffs:

Ravens @ Steelers: It's going to come to this, you just know it.

Jets @ Patriots: See above.

Championship Game:

Steelers @ Patriots: A must-watch game between teams with five Super Bowls since 2001.


NFC Breakdown

Wild Card Weekend:

Packers @ Eagles: The Eagles appear to declining while the Pack is flying high.

Saints @ Rams: The Saints should have no trouble with this one.

Divisional Playoffs:

Saints @ Falcons: This game takes on a whole new perspective after Monday night.

Eagles @ Bears: The Bears continue to defy all logic and win games.

Championship Game:

Eagles @ Falcons: This game just has to happen, right? The Football Gods deem it so.

Super Bowl:

Patriots vs. Falcons: They've been the two best teams all season long.

The Unbiased Power Rankings

The top two teams remain the same with the Patriots and Falcons well ahead of anyone else but there's a new No. 3 in town with the Ravens jumping the Eagles and Steelers. The Lions were the biggest movers in this week's rankings, gaining five spots after their win against Miami. The biggest drops this week were courtesy of the Giants, Jaguars, Titans and Cowboys who all fell three spots each. The unbiased rankings still hate the Buccaneers putting them eight spots lower than their record would indicate but they love the Redskins who have impressive wins against good teams but haven't been able to create any momentum this season.

Tier I
Rank
Team
Rating
1
New England Patriots
567.5
2
Atlanta Falcons
485.7
Tier II
Rank
Team
Rating
3
Baltimore Ravens
430.0
4
Philadelphia Eagles
422.6
5
Pittsburgh Steelers
421.3
6
Chicago Bears
408.5
7
New Orleans Saints
408.3
8
New York Jets
380.2
Tier III
Rank
Team
Rating
9
Green Bay Packers
354.0
10
Indianapolis Colts
348.2
11
Kansas City Chiefs
346.6
12
New York Giants
323.2
13
San Diego Chargers
307.7
14
Washington Redskins
282.2
15
Oakland Raiders
277.0
16
Miami Dolphins
273.8
17
Jacksonville Jaguars
273.3
Tier IV
Rank
Team
Rating
18
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
265.3
19
Tennessee Titans
257.6
20
Detroit Lions
223.8
21
Houston Texans
223.0
21
St. Louis Rams
223.0
23
Cleveland Browns
219.0
24
Seattle Seahawks
218.2
25
Minnesota Vikings
215.0
26
Dallas Cowboys
203.1
27
Arizona Cardinals
201.8
28
San Francisco 49ers
178.4
Tier V
Rank
Team
Rating
29
Denver Broncos
162.9
30
Cincinnati Bengals
159.3
31
Buffalo Bills
134.9
32
Carolina Panthers
68.9


NFC South

For the Falcons, it's simple. Beat the Panthers and they clinch the division and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. If they lose and the Saints and Bears both win, the Falcons would be the No. 5 seed and have to go on the road in the first round.

For the Saints, they need a Falcons loss plus a win over the Bucs to get the No. 2 seed. Otherwise, they'll be the No. 5 seed.

The Bucs need all kinds of help but it starts with them beating the Saints. Then they need both the Packers and Giants to lose. If that happens, they would be the No. 6 seed.

The Panthers have declined a playoff appearance this season and instead will be playing in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes held next April.

Methodology: The Unbiased Power Rankings are exactly that, unbiased. We take into account a team's wins, losses and a strength of schedule component to arrive at a truly unbiased rating. We have no preseason polls, no preset baselines. Only the performance on the field - this season - matters. Emotion is not welcome here. Still interested? Here's the ingredients we use to make this delicious stew of math-based power rankings.

Each team is awarded five points for a win and five points for every game a defeated opponent wins. To measure a loss, the total number of opponent wins is divided by the number of the ranked team's losses.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.