All you need to know about the final week of the regular NFL season

We’ve got a Week 18 of an NFL season for the very first time. There are still 18 teams in Super Bowl contention, but that number will be cut to 14 during the final week of action.

The NFC West is set to be decided between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, while the AFC East race between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots will go down to the final game.

Eleven of the 14 play-off spots have been taken, and for those final three spots available, the one remaining in the NFC is a straight fight between the 49ers and Saints.New Orleans need to beat Atlanta and hope San Francisco lose to the Rams to pinch it.

In the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts can clinch a spot with a win in Jacksonville, and they'll be joined by the winner of the "play-in" game between the Chargers and Raiders in Las Vegas.

The winner of the Ravens vs Steelers game needs plenty of help from elsewhere to sneak in. Here's how the current picture stands and what to look out for this weekend.

Current NFL play-off picture


(1) Packers 13-3 - Clinched top seed & first-round bye

(2) Rams 12-4

(3) Buccaneers 12-4

(4) Cowboys 12-5

(5) Cardinals 11-5

(6) 49ers 9-7*

(7) Eagles 9-8

*In the hunt: Saints 8-8


(1) Chiefs 12-5

(2) Titans 11-5

(3) Bengals 10-6

(4) Bills 10-6

(5) Patriots 10-6

(6) Colts 9-7*

(7) Chargers 9-7*

*In the hunt: Raiders 9-7, Steelers 8-7-1, Ravens 8-8

AFC Top spot up for grabs

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II (15) scrambles with the ball in the fourth quarter during the NFL game

Chiefs (12-5) @ Broncos (7-10) | Titans (11-5) @ Texans (4-12)

The Kansas City Chiefs were the favourites to win the AFC, but a Tennessee Titans win would see them clinch top spot.

Whoever claims the prize will have at least five defeats on their record, and that's as many as an AFC top seed has ever had since they started seeding in 1975, showing how competitive the AFC has been this season.

The Chiefs should at least be doing their part - they've won their last 12 against the Broncos and Denver have already been ruled out of the post-season for a sixth straight season, so motivation to play party pooper may not be enough.

Patrick Mahomes and his star-studded receivers will play and although Denver have always played them tough, the hosts are without star cornerback Patrick Surtain and that's a blow.

The Titans should have few problems taking care of business against a Texans side that is the worst in the league against the run, so that AFC top spot should be in the bag.

And given that, the 9/2 on the Titans winning the AFC may be worth taking now if you're a fan, as they've already beaten the Chiefs, Bills and Colts in Nashville and are set to welcome Derrick Henry back from injury. Nobody wants to be facing him in the play-offs if he's fresh and firing.

A double on the Titans and Chiefs both to win (-10.5pts on the handicap) comes in as a 7/2 shot.

Who wins the NFC West?

George Kittle

49ers (9-7) @ Rams (12-4) | Saints (8-8) @ Falcons (7-9) | Seahawks (6-10) @ Cardinals (11-5)

We've got three games here all inextricably linked, and all kicking off at the same time, with the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals going for the division while the 49ers and Saints are battling for one wildcard spot.

Wins wouldn't come any sweeter for Sean McVay if his Rams can beat their rivals, clinch the NFC West while also helping end San Francisco's season - as you'd have to assume New Orleans would take care of the Falcons.

The Rams are 2/7 to win the division and 4/9 to beat the Niners, but beating the Niners is something they've failed to do the last five times they've played - with Kyle Shanahan really having their number.

Overall, Shanahan has beaten his former Washington colleague McVay in six of their nine meetings, but this run of five straight wins goes beyond coincidence and suggests he just has all the answers.

This season already the 49ers handed out a 31-10 beatdown for the Rams' heaviest defeat in three years, so while LA have won five straight that bogey team factor means the Niners aren't the worst bet at 15/8 to win this one - and it's a must win for them after all.

A Rams loss opens the door for the Cardinal to clinch the division, which they're 27/10 to do, but maybe they'd prefer not to have a home play-off game given they've lost their last four in Arizona.

It's a bizarre run for a team that started 7-0 and considered the best in the league for a lot of the season. They'll need to head into the play-offs confident, but it won't be easy against a loose Seattle side who are out of the play-offs for just the second time in a decade.

It could also be Russell Wilson's last game as Seattle QB, and he's poised for history as win number 114 would see him overtake the great Payton Manning for the most victories in a QB's first 10 NFL seasons, while 125 yards will see him join Manning as the only QBs with 3,000 yards and 20 TDs in every one of their first 10 seasons.

That's an elite record that could easily be enough motivation for Wilson to engineer a 9/4 upset.

AFC East on the line

New York Jets, NFL

Jets (4-12) @ Bills (10-6) | Patriots (10-6) @ Dolphins (8-8)

The Bills just need a win to pip the Patriots to the AFC East and defend their crown, and they certainly have the easier assignment, even if the Jets came close to beating the Buccaneers last week.

Miami's brave playoff bid ended last week, while the Pats responded to back-to-back defeats by hanging a 50-burger on the Jags. The Dolphins have won their last two against the Pats and their last four home games this season.

It should just be all about the Bills here, with their top overall defense allowing just 11 passing TDs this season and claiming 19 interceptions, so they'll give Zach Wilson fits in his first start against them.

A big worry for Buffalo could be in their rush defense that ranks 30th since Week 11 allowing 152 yards a game - the Jets will test that out and it's something they'll need to fix for the play-offs.

Bills QB Josh Allen needs two rushing TDs to match Cam Newton's record over his first four seasons, and he may well get them in a game Buffalo should win comfortably, but perhaps not by the 16-point spread being offered.

The play-in game for the play-offs

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) runs after the catch in the second quarter of an AFC West matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs

Chargers (9-7) @ Raiders (9-7)

We just love these sudden death games, and a play-off place is assured for the winner of this divisional scrap in Las Vegas.

Defeat is unthinkable, but what about a tie? Well, they're a rare commodity in the NFL but if the Colts did somehow lose to the Jags earlier on Sunday, then these two teams would know that a tied game would see them both make the play-offs!

Carve up anyone? It's more likely in a final group game of a football World Cup than the NFL - where there's been one tie all season - but it would be interesting if the game was close down the stretch...

The Chargers are favourites with QB Justin Herbert shining in his five previous prime time games, throwing 14 TDs and just two picks, but his side have also laid some eggs this season and that terrible rush defense is a worry.

The Raiders have been playing playoff football for a month, with their last three wins all being to keep them in the hunt, and they've won them all by four points or less - that confidence in a close one could be crucial.

Colts to complete the line-up?

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts, NFL

Colts (9-7) @ Jaguars (2-14)

It's a mystery how the Colts have lost the last six away games to the Jaguars, if you include one played in London, but that surely ends now as they chase a third playoff spot in four years.

Losing on the last play to the Raiders last week will have hurt Indy, as they could've then rested stars such as Jonathan Taylor ahead of what could be a deep playoff run given the brand of football they play.

It's still six wins in eight for the Colts though with Taylor set to win the rushing title and, who knows, maybe even the MVP? A monster game here would help as he needs 266 yards to top 2,000 for the season.

Only eight players have ever gone over 2,000 rushing yards and the Jags have allowed 454 in the last couple of games while Taylor ran for 253 against them last season. With Taylor in the backfield nobody will want to see the Colts in the postseason.

And QB Carson Wentz is complimenting him nicely, especially away from home where he's thrown 10 TD passes and no interceptions in his seven road starts this season. No QB has ever started eight or more road games in a season without throwing a pick.

For the Jags, the only thing they've got left to play for is top pick in the NFL Draft, which they'll secure with the inevitable defeat that's coming.

What's left? Big Ben's farewell and Burrow rested

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger will be playing his final game for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and fittingly it's against old rivals Baltimore with both sides still technically able to make the play-offs.

The Steelers need a win and a shock Colts loss at Jacksonville, while the Ravens need even more help with a win coupled with defeats for the Colts, Dolphins and Chargers.

The usually very watchable battle of Ohio between Cleveland and Cincinnati will become a battle of the benchwarmers with the Bengals keeping Joe Burrow fresh for the play-offs and a battered Baker Mayfield off to go and have shoulder surgery.

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are set to start Green Bay's final game against Detroit even though the Packers have locked up the top seed in the NFC.

The question here for coach Matt LeFleur is balancing the worry of Rodgers getting injured with the prospect of him getting rusty as sitting out here would mean a three-week gap between games.

LeFleur's ideal scenario here is Rodgers plays the first half or so, throws for a bunch of yards and touchdowns then lets Jordan Love get some game time in.

The Pack remain the 7/2 favourites to win it all.

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