NFL Week 18: Key Games To Watch — Playoff Implications & What’s At Stake

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NFL Week 18: Key Games To Watch - Playoff Implications & What's At Stake

Heading into Week 18 of the NFL season, there are nine teams with double-digit wins and 11 with records of 9-8 or 8-8. Thus, several games this week could decide the fate of one or both team’s playoff and Super Bowl hopes. 

Below, we’ll review five of the most critical games regarding playoff implications. Keep in mind, though, that there are plenty more than five. 

Colts vs. Texans

This is one of the more direct games regarding how the results might impact playoff implications. The Houston Texans defeated the Tennessee Titans in Week 17, 26-3. Quarterback C.J. Stroud passed for 213 yards and a touchdown.

The Indianapolis Colts won in Week 17, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders by a score of 23-20. Quarterback Gardner Minshew had 224 passing yards and a touchdown. Running back Jonathan Taylor had 21 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. 

Playoff scenarios

Ravens vs. Steelers

The Baltimore Ravens are the No. 1 seed in the AFC and will be sitting quarterback Lamar Jackson. Tyler Huntley will draw the start. The Pittsburgh Steelers will need some assistance to make the postseason, but it starts (mostly) with a win here over the Ravens. They are favorites, with Mason Rudolph under center. They beat the Seahawks in Week 17 by a score of 30-23. Rudolph had 274 passing yards. 

Playoff scenarios

The Steelers can clinch a playoff berth in the following ways:

Bills vs. Dolphins

The AFC East crown will be determined in Week 18. The Buffalo Bills are favored on the road over the Miami Dolphins. The Bills notched a 27-21 victory over the Patriots in Week 17, while the Dolphins lost on the road to the Ravens, 56-19. Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill is dealing with an ankle injury. During practice on Wednesday, his home caught fire, and he left the session early. 

Against the Ravens, Hill finished with 76 receiving yards. Against the Patriots, Bills quarterback Josh Allen completed 15 of 30 passes for 169 yards. 

Playoff scenarios

The Bills can clinch a playoff spot in the following ways aside from a win:

Falcons vs. Saints

The NFC South has three teams in the hunt for a playoff spot, and there is a scenario where two teams could get in, but it would involve one of the two NFC South games and more for that to happen. First up are the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. The Falcons lost on the road last week, allowing 37 points to the Chicago Bears and scoring 17.

The Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road in Week 17, holding them to 13 points and scoring 23. Saints quarterback Derek Carr had 197 passing yards and two touchdowns. Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield had 309 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. 

Playoff scenarios

Buccaneers vs. Panthers

While the Carolina Panthers have no playoff implications, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can control their fate with a win here. The Buccaneers scored just 13 in Week 17, but Mayfield had over 300 passing yards. The Panthers scored zero points in their Week 17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Panthers quarterback Bryce Young completed 19 of 32 for 112 yards and an interception. The Panthers converted one of 13 third downs and had 124 total yards of offense. 

Playoff scenarios