By Russell S. Baxter
We are on the verge of the 2018 NFL playoffs and it is business as usual for this final week of the regular season. The turnover from year to year when it comes to qualifying for the postseason is extraordinary. That is, with the exception of the New England Patriots – headed to the playoffs for a league-record 10th straight year.
Who’s in and who’s out after the NFL 2018 week 16?
The Kansas City Chiefs are headed back to the playoffs for the fourth straight year, while the division rival Los Angeles Chargers will be making their first appearance in the Super Bowl tournament since 2013. The Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks are back in the postseason after one-year absences. And the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams are back to compete for a Super Bowl title for a second straight year.
As for the rest of the conference, the Dallas Cowboys are NFC East champions for the third time in five years. The Chicago Bears escaped the NFC North basement for the first time since 2013 and won a division title for the first time since 2010.
What’s at stake?
The Baltimore Ravens are atop the AFC North with a 9-6 record, just ahead of the 8-6-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. A win by John Harbaugh’s team puts the Steelers out of the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Minnesota Vikings and defending Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles are vying for the last spot in the NFC. And on Sunday night, the Indianapolis Colts travels to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans, who were a wild card team a season ago. Either could win the AFC South if the Texans stumble at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Nine teams in and three spots to be filled. Welcome to Week 17.
Russell S. Baxter is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com and a member of the NFL media for 35 years and counting. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.