NFL Week 17 preview: Playoff race approaches boiling level as Tom Brady’s season teeters


Tom Brady is not any stranger to excessive stress conditions – though normally they arrive within the playoffs, versus the weeks prior as his stuttering Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to safe their spot within the postseason.

Brady has now spent more of his life within the NFL than he has out of the league – he was drafted aged 22 and eight months (8,292 days) on April 16, 2000, and by the point the Bucs meet their division rival Carolina Panthers on Sunday, it can have been 8,295 days since that date.

Few seasons have been as turbulent for the seven-time Tremendous Bowl winner, who retired and unretired within the area of some weeks final offseason.

The Bucs are 7-8, atop the NFC South division however only one recreation forward of the Panthers.

Defeat in Tampa on Sunday would depart the groups with equivalent data heading into the ultimate week and Carolina forward by way of the head-to-head tiebreaker – not an eventuality Brady or head coach Todd Bowles would have envisaged when the workforce began the yr with two wins.

Carolina will likely be buoyed by their 21-3 win over Tampa in week 7, though that got here with PJ Walker within the quarterback slot. Sam Darnold takes up that mantel this weekend, seeking to back-up his 250-yard, one landing efficiency towards the Detroit Lions final day trip with one other profitable exhibiting.

Kickoff is ready for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Whereas Monday Night time Soccer’s recreation might not possess the playoff jeopardy of Carolina @ Tampa Bay, it does signify one thing equally engaging – a late-season conflict between two groups with real Tremendous Bowl credentials, and two of the league’s greatest quarterbacks.

Josh Allen will likely be hoping to gasoline the Payments thirteenth win on the yr and seventh straight, with the workforce having already clinched the AFC East division.

With an equivalent report to the perennially contending Kansas Metropolis Chiefs however a bonus within the head-to-head tiebreaker, a Payments win this weekend would safe the all-important No.1 seed within the AFC – granting them a playoff bye and home-field benefit all through the convention playoffs.

For the Bengals, Joe Burrow has been in imperious type of late.

The 26-year-old gained the AFC Offensive Participant of the week award for his 375-yard, three landing passing efficiency towards the New England Patriots – and his relationship with fellow LSU alumnus Ja’Marr Chase has been the driving drive behind Cincinnati’s personal seven-game profitable run.

The sport will get underway at 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

Baltimore have already secured their spot within the postseason, however the remaining two video games of the common season can have drastic ramifications to a possible Tremendous Bowl pathway.

Star quarterback Lamar Jackson has missed three straight video games due a knee harm and failed to practice for a tenth day in a row on Wednesday. That may recommend that Tyler Huntley will suit-up for an additional begin rather than the 2019 MVP this weekend.

A win for the Ravens would make their week 18 conflict with the Bengals an AFC North championship decider after their week 5 win over the identical opponent. It could additionally hand Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin the primary shedding season of his 15-year profession.

The Steelers’ slim playoff hopes took one other hit when the Los Angeles Chargers assured their spot with a win towards Indianapolis on Monday, however extra than simply Tomlin’s spectacular profession report is on the road Sunday evening.

The Steelers-Ravens rivalry is without doubt one of the most storied and intense within the NFL, with the AFC North groups having met within the postseason 4 instances in historical past and proudly owning 4 mixed Tremendous Bowl titles.

Tune in at 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday to see who takes the spoils.

Tyler Huntley hands the ball off against the Atlanta Falcons on December 24.

Defeat towards the Philadelphia Eagles on the finish of November appeared to have ended any real looking goals of Aaron Rodgers profitable a second Tremendous Bowl title, however Packers and their Cheeseheaded-supporters have seen a latest upturn in fortunes, mixed with some NFC rivals crumbling, supply an unlikely path to wild-card weekend soccer.

Standing of their manner are the division champion Minnesota Vikings, who beat the Packers in a one-sided week one matchup.

That was considered one of Minnesota’s few comfy victories this season with the workforce proving to have exceptional mettle in tight affairs – they’ve gained 11 video games by one-possession scorelines. They’re the primary workforce in NFL historical past to notch so many such wins.

A giant half in that has been the electrical type of third-year large receiver Justin Jefferson, who has been a nightmare for defences all season.

His newest virtuoso efficiency towards the New York Giants final weekend took him previous Vikings legend Randy Moss’ report for many single-season receiving yards in franchise historical past – and the 23-year-old is now simply 209 yards behind Calvin Johnson’s league-wide report of 1964 receiving yards in a season.

The sport begins at Lambeau Subject at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Having regarded destined for the franchise’s first playoff spot since 2016 for a lot of the season, the Miami Dolphins now face the very actual risk of squandering one other seemingly promising yr having misplaced their final 4 video games.

Including to Miami’s troubles this week was the revelation that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered his second concussion of an issue ridden season throughout Sunday’s defeat to the Inexperienced Bay Packers.

That harm means the workforce is prone to transfer ahead with backup Teddy Bridgewater in his place.

The Dolphins haven’t gained a recreation with out Tua this season and can want at the very least one victory from their remaining two AFC East clashes to finish their playoff drought, relying on different outcomes across the league.

The Patriots, in the meantime, are in must-win territory in the event that they wish to preserve their postseason hopes alive.

Their miserly protection has conceded the fifth-fewest factors per recreation this yr, however the workforce has struggled on the opposite aspect of the ball sophomore quarterback Mac Jones rating thirty second on the place in keeping with ESPN’s QBR metric.

Watch the competition at Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Tua Tagovailoa suffered his second concussion of the season.

Right here’s how you can catch these groups and others throughout the league in motion, from wherever you’re.

Australia: NFL Recreation Cross, ESPN, 7Plus

Brazil: NFL Recreation Cross, ESPN

Canada: CTV, TSN, RDS, NFL Recreation Cross on DAZN

Germany: NFL Recreation Cross, ProSieben MAXX, DAZN

Mexico: NFL Recreation Cross, TUDN, ESPN, Fox Sports activities, Sky Sports activities

UK: NFL Recreation Cross, Sky Sports activities, ITV, Channel 5

US: NFL Recreation Cross, CBS Sports activities, Fox Sports activities, ESPN, Amazon Prime