Nolan Gabel, Staff Writer

Week 18 is upcoming and playoff spots are on the line. In the NFC, the Packers, Lions, and Seahawks are still in the hunt for the 7th seed. The winner of the 7th seed would face one of four teams: the Eagles, Cowboys, Vikings, or 49ers.

Packers: The Green Bay Packers had been struggling at the beginning of the season, but have now found their footing, defeating the Miami Dolphins and the Minnesota Vikings to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Packers simply need to beat the Lions to advance to the playoffs.

Lions: The Detroit Lions overcame adversity and went from 1-6 to 8-8, winning 7 of their last 9 games in the process. To make the playoffs, the Seahawks need to lose and the Lions have to beat the Packers.

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Seahawks: Led by quarterback Geno Smith and head coach Pete Carroll, the Seattle Seahawks have gone from the low expectations of having a top 3 pick in the NFL Draft to have a chance to make the playoffs. To make the playoffs, the Seahawks have to beat the Rams and the Lions have to beat the Packers.

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Out of the three teams in the NFC, I believe the Packers have the best chance as they control their own destiny and have the legendary Aaron Rodgers playing at a higher level just at the right time of the season.

In terms of the AFC, the Steelers, Titans, Jaguars, Patriots, and Dolphins are all still in the hunt for a playoff spot – the Titans and Jaguars fighting for the 4th seed, and the rest fighting for the 7th seed.

Titans v. Jaguars: Whoever wins this game clinches the 4th seed and the AFC South title while the loser is eliminated from playoff contention.

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I believe the Jaguars will triumph in this win-or-go-home game because they’re running on all cylinders the past few weeks on offense and the Titans are dealing with a host of injuries to important players – including injuries to Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, who are major reasons for the Titans’ success this season.

Dolphins: The Dolphins were doing extremely well at the beginning of the season, but for the past couple of weeks, the Dolphins have been on a losing streak and are now on the brink of going home for good this season. To make the playoffs, the Dolphins have to beat the Jets and need the Bills to beat the Patriots.

Patriots: The Patriots have been struggling for weeks in all facets of the game – from their failures to capitalize on offense, to special teams’ errors and questionable coaching decisions. Somehow, the Patriots have been able to stay alive due to the Jets’ and Dolphins’ losses in week 17. To make the playoffs, they have to beat the Bills. If they lose, they still have a chance, but will need a ton of help, requiring the Dolphins to lose to the Jets, the Steelers to lose to the Browns, and the Jaguars to beat the Titans!

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Steelers: The Steelers (similar to the Lions) went from 2-6 to 8-8 to keep their playoff chances alive. To make the playoffs, the Steelers have to beat, or tie, the Browns, the Jets have to beat the Dolphins, and the Bills have to beat the Patriots. Also, if the Dolphins and Patriots tie and the Steelers win, the Steelers will somehow make the playoffs!

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I believe the Steelers will be the unlikely victor this weekend and will find a way to make it into the playoffs.  The Dolphins will be without their star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and playing against an archrival, and solid, Jets defense that would love to keep them out of the postseason.  The Patriots need too much help to get in and are also playing against their nemesis, the Bills, who will be playing with a lot of emotion based on what transpired against the Bengals in week 17. Get your yellow and black terrible towels out Pittsburgh!