NFL Week 17 Preview

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Much has been decided as the NFL regular season comes to a close, in terms of who’s in the playoffs and where they’ll be seeded. But much also still remains to be determined. Here’s a quick look at the situation as Sunday’s Week 17 slate rolls around.

In the NFC, the playoff teams are set; it’s just the seedings that need to be worked out. New Orleans owns the top seed, and four teams, Arizona, Dallas, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, have shots at the two seed and the second NFC first-round bye. And Green Bay will either be the five or the six seed.

The Cardinals host the Packers (4:15 pm Eastern, Fox) in what has a good chance to be a preview of an NFC Wild Card game of next weekend. The Vikings host the New York Giants (1 pm E, Fox), needing a win and help to claim the two spot. And the Cowboys host the Eagles (4:15 E, Fox) in a winner-take-all battle for the NFC East championship.

As of Thursday morning Oddsmaker.com is listing Arizona at -3 over Green Bay, with the Packers getting +160 on the moneyline. Minnesota is giving New York 9 points, with the Giants, who have nothing to play for but pride, getting +330 on the moneyline. And Dallas is favored by 3 points over Philly, with the Eagles getting +140 to win outright.

In the AFC all four divisions have been decided, as have the top two seeds, Indianapolis and San Diego. But the AFC Wild Card situation is almost too convoluted to describe. Let’s just say that seven teams, the Jets, Ravens, Broncos, Texans, Steelers, Dolphins, and Jaguars, all still have varying chances to make the playoffs. Only the Jets and Ravens are in win-and-you’re-in situations.

Jacksonville, which has lost three straight games, visits Cleveland, which has won three straight (1 E, CBS); Houston hosts New England, which may rest some starters (1 E, CBS); Pittsburgh visits Miami in a lose-and-you’re-out scenario (1 E, CBS); Denver, which needs a win and help, hosts Kansas City (4:15 E, CBS); Baltimore visits Oakland (4:15 E, CBS); and in the last game of the regular season, New York hosts Cincinnati, which may also rest starters (8:20 E, NBC).

As of Thursday morning Oddsmaker.com is listing the Jags as 1-point underdogs at the Browns; the Texans are listed at -7 over New England, with the Patriots getting +290 on the moneyline; the Broncos are -12.5 over the Chiefs, with KC getting +500 to win outright; the Ravens are -10 over the Raiders, with Oakland getting +425 to pull off the upset; and the Jets are -9.5 over the Bengals, with Cincy getting +380 to win outright.

And Oddsmaker.com is holding off on lining the Steelers-Dolphins game, because of the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu and Miami RB Ricky Williams.

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