As we head into the final month of the 2017 NFL season, it's time to project what the NFL Playoffs will look like this year. Only a few things are certain - like the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers getting the top two seeds in the AFC - meaning that plenty is set to be decided over the next five weeks. However, when all is said and done, here's how we project the playoffs will look:
Video Podcast For You: The Fantasy Football Rumors Podcast
1) New England Patriots (9-2)
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2)
There are no surprises here with the top two. Outside of their game against each other, we expect both to win out. We're picking the Patriots to win that game even though it's in Pittsburgh (because New England always wins those kinds of games), but the Steelers will move to the top seed with a win.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4)
The dropoff between the top two teams and the rest of the field in the AFC is incredibly steep, but Jacksonville's defense and rushing attack will carry them to the three-seed in the conference. Why? They could very easily go 4-1 down the stretch with games against the Colts, Seahawks, Texans, 49ers, and Titans. That final game against Tennessee will determine the division, and we're giving it to the Jags.
4) Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
Yes, the Chiefs have struggled mightily of late losing five of their last six games, but their friendly remaining schedule will give them the division title. They already have a one-game lead over the Chargers and don't face a team with a winning record for the rest of the year. That, and the fact they get LA at home in Week 15, means Kansas City makes the playoffs.
5) Tennessee Titans (7-4)
The biggest reason why Tennessee loses the AFC South to the Jags is that they have the toughest game remaining against the Rams. Still, their rushing attack (and the lack of quality teams in the conference) give them a wild card spot.
6) Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
Baltimore is going to be the team that gets into the postseason at 9-7. We expect them to lose their next two games to Detroit and Pittsburgh, but then close with three of the worst teams in the league - at Cleveland, vs. Indianapolis, and vs. Cincinnati. Going 3-0 in that stretch will earn them a bid.
NFL Fans - Download Chat Sports on iPhone today for breaking NFL news, rumors, scores and more - Chat Sports iPhone App!
1) Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
The way Philadelphia is playing right now on their nine-game win streak (five straight wins by double digits) doesn't give us any indication that they will be slowing down anytime soon. Their next two games are rough - at Seattle and at the Rams - but they close with three games against teams with losing records. Plus, they have the MVP frontrunner in Carson Wentz.
2) Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
We've been waiting for weeks now for the Vikings to falter, but all they've done is continue to win. Like Philadelphia, they have a tough two-game stretch upcoming at Atlanta and at Carolina but close with three games against teams with a losing record. Their defense will lead them to enough wins to keep a top two seed.
3) New Orleans Saints (8-3)
The Saints still have both games against the Falcons coming up in the next four weeks, and their play in those games will have a major impact on their playoff chances. Assuming they split, New Orleans will be in a great position - starting with a home win over the Panthers this weekend.
4) Los Angeles Rams (8-3)
Why will the Rams win the NFC West? They lead Seattle by one game and we project them to go 3-2 in their final five games, meaning Seattle would likely have to go 5-0 to jump them - which isn't happening.
5) Carolina Panthers (8-3)
If Carolina beats the Saints on the road on Sunday, they put themselves in a great position to win the NFC South. However, the way New Orleans' defense confused Cam Newton and how the rushing attack dominated the Panthers' defense earlier this season, I don't see them returning the favor on the road. That loss, followed by a home game against Minnesota, will drop them to the fringe of the playoffs but coming wins over Green Bay and Tampa Bay will be enough for them to earn a bid.
6) Detroit Lions (6-5)
Why is Detroit making the playoffs over teams like Atlanta and Seattle? They have a much easier path to the playoffs. The Falcons only have one game left against a team with a losing record while the Seahawks have a looming three-game stretch against Philadelphia, Jacksonville, and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Detroit closes against the Ravens, Bucs, Bears, Bengals, and Packers. That's a recipe for them to get to 10 wins.