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Playoff picture: Week 17 notes on how early games impact late games

By Joe Ferreira | Special to CBSSports.com

The Chargers could play a huge role in the AFC seeding depending on the outcomes of early games.
The Chargers could play a huge role in the AFC seeding depending on the outcomes of early games. (USATSI)

As you sit back to take in all of what Week 17 offers, here are a few things to look for as the day progresses that will impact playoff berths and seedings this year.

In the race for the AFC No. 6 seed, the Miami and Baltimore games at 1 p.m. ET are key here.

  • If both Miami and Baltimore win, a San Diego win at 4:25 p.m. ET gets Miami the No. 6 seed and a Kansas City win gets Baltimore the No. 6 seed
  • If Miami wins and Baltimore loses early, Miami is the No. 6 seed
  • If Baltimore wins and Miami loses early, Baltimore is the No. 6 seed
  • If both Miami and Baltimore lose and Pittsburgh wins early, a San Diego win gets the Chargers the No. 6 seed and a Kansas City win gets Pittsburgh the No. 6 seed
  • If Miami, Baltimore and Pittsburgh all lose early, a San Diego win gets the Chargers the No. 6 seed and a Kansas City win gets Baltimore the No. 6 seed

The AFC No. 1 seed will be decided in the late window as both Denver and New England play at 4:25 p.m. ET. If Denver wins or New England loses, the Broncos will be the No. 1 seed. New England needs a win and a Denver loss to gain homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Also, New England could have the first-round bye locked up prior to playing if both Cincinnati and Indianapolis lose early.

Cincinnati needs a win early and a New England loss late to gain a first-round bye, so Bengals fans will be big Bills fans if they win early.

Indianapolis can still get a first-round bye as well if they win and Cincinnati loses to Baltimore early, and then New England loses to Buffalo late.

Cincinnati would lock up the No. 3 seed with:

1) Win early plus a New England win late

2) Indianapolis loss early

On the NFC side, the Carolina-Atlanta game is the only game of impact at 1 p.m. ET. If Carolina wins early they will gain at least the No. 2 seed and can get the No. 1 seed late if San Francisco wins and Seattle loses.

If Carolina wins early, New Orleans will get in the playoffs late with either a win against Tampa Bay or an Arizona loss against San Francisco.

If Carolina loses early, New Orleans can get the No. 2 seed with a win over Tampa Bay late.

At 4:25 p.m. ET, Seattle will try to lock up the No. 1 seed with either a win or a San Francisco loss. If neither happens, San Francisco will be either the No. 2 seed (if Carolina won early) or the No. 1 seed (if Carolina lost early).

In the late window, Green Bay will be at Chicago in a battle for the NFC North title. If Green Bay wins they will be the No. 4 seed. If Chicago wins, they will be either the No. 4 seed (if Philadelphia beats Dallas Sunday night) or the No. 3 seed (if Dallas wins).

Arizona will be playing at 4:25 p.m. ET and will be cheering for Tampa Bay, as they need a win and a New Orleans loss to get in the playoffs.

At night, Philadelphia can lock up the NFC East division title and the No. 3 seed with a win. If Dallas wins, they will be the No. 3 seed if Chicago lost earlier in the day. Otherwise the Cowboys will be the No. 4 seed and will host the No. 5 seed on Wild Card Weekend.

ENJOY!!

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