How a wild Week 17 unfolded: NFL playoff picture, Bills' miracle, draft order, more

The Bills snapped their 17-year playoff drought -- the longest in pro football -- while the Titans are headed to their first postseason since 2008.

Here's a tick-tock of everything important that happened Sunday.

Go to: Playoff primer | Postseason schedule

8:00 p.m. ET

Jeremy Mills of ESPN Stats & Information put together a fun, three-and-a-half-hour timeline that shows how the AFC wild-card race changed hands just a few times over the course of the afternoon:

  • 4:25: Ravens and Titans hold AFC wild-card spots at kickoff

  • 4:33: Bills take lead; Bills and Ravens hold wild-card spots

  • 5:03: Titans take lead; Titans and Bills hold wild-card spots

  • 7:23: Chargers win to stay alive in wild-card race

  • 7:24: Ravens take lead; Ravens and Titans hold wild-card spots

  • 7:30: Titans win to clinch wild-card spot (Chargers eliminated)

  • 7:40: Bills win to stay alive in wild-card race

  • 7:51: Ravens fall behind; Bills hold wild-card spot

  • 7:58: Ravens lose, Bills clinch wild-card

As for the 20 non-playoff teams ...

Here is the NFL draft order 1-20, via Jeremy Mills of ESPN Stats & Information. Browns have No. 1 and No. 4 overall. Tiebreaker is reverse order of strength of schedule, followed by coin flip if necessary.

Kevin Seifert, ESPN Staff Writer625d ago

7:59 p.m. ET

The Buffalo Bills are in the AFC playoffs. Let me say it again: THE BUFFALO BILLS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS for the first time since 1999. It happened in the most spectacular of fashions, as the Ravens lost a late lead to the Bengals. The Bills will be the No. 6 seed and will play at the third-seeded Jaguars in the wild-card round.

Calling it a roller coaster might not do this one justice.

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics625d ago

7:46 p.m. ET

7:34 p.m. ET

The Saints' last-minute loss to the Buccaneers essentially meant one spot in the NFC playoff seedings. They are No. 4 and will host the No. 5 Panthers in the wild-card round.

7:31 p.m. ET

The Ravens have taken a lead over the Bengals. It's 27-24 midway through the fourth quarter. If the Ravens hold on, they'll be the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs, and the Bills' looming victory in Miami would be rendered irrelevant.

7:30 p.m. ET

The Titans are headed for their first playoff berth since 2008 after outlasting the AFC South champion Jaguars. Tennessee's victory eliminated the Chargers from the AFC playoff picture. The Titans will be the No. 5 seed if the Ravens lose to the Bengals and would play in the wild-card round at the No. 4 Chiefs. If the Ravens win, the Titans will be the No. 6 seed and would play the Jaguars for the second consecutive week in the wild-card round.

7:02 p.m. ET

Both AFC wild-card spots are coming down to the final quarter of the season. The Titans and Ravens get in with wins. The Bills are well on their way to a victory over the Dolphins and would be in position to swoop in if the Ravens lose to the Bengals. The Chargers need a loss by the Titans.

Latest major movement is the Marcus Mariota fumble that Yannick Ngakoue returned for a touchdown. Helps keep the Chargers alive.

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics625d ago

6:55 p.m. ET

It isn't looking good for the Seahawks, who were trailing the Cardinals by two scores while the Falcons led the Panthers by two scores when the fourth quarter began in Seattle. The Seahawks need a victory over the Cardinals and a loss by the Falcons to make the playoffs.

6:45 p.m. ET

The Saints trail the Buccaneers in the fourth quarter. New Orleans will win the NFC South regardless of the outcome, if the Panthers lose to the Falcons. But a loss to the Buccaneers could push the Saints from the NFC's No. 3 seed to the No. 4.

6:34 p.m. ET

The AFC race just got a huge swing play in Baltimore. Instead of moving in to potentially tie the score, the Ravens fell behind by two touchdowns when Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown. Again, the Ravens would clinch a playoff spot if they win. If they don't, and the rest of today's games continue as they are, the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills will be the AFC's two wild-card teams.

Yes, that is Joe Flacco's pick-six.

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics625d ago

6:15 p.m. ET

The Buffalo Bills appear to have lost RB LeSean McCoy to injury, but they're hanging on to a playoff spot. If today's games ended at this moment:

Kevin Seifert, ESPN Staff Writer625d ago

6:08 p.m. ET

Can we talk about the Ravens for a moment? They've been sleepwalking their way through today's matchup with the Bengals. Perhaps Baltimore gained some momentum just before halftime, closing a 17-3 deficit to 17-10. But the Ravens are dangerously close to blowing a "win-and-get-in" scenario for the AFC playoffs.

Tons of movement in the AFC wild card race after eventful first halves. Here's where they stand as of ~halftime. Titans: 82% Ravens: 60% Bills: 50% Chargers: 8%

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics625d ago

5:57 p.m. ET

It appears the Seahawks are going to make things easy on the Falcons. Seattle trails the Cardinals 20-7 at home and will be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss. That would give the Falcons the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs whether or not they beat the Panthers, against whom they're tied 7-7 at halftime.

5:44 p.m. ET

Chuck Pagano's tenure with the Colts is over, and his time with the team will largely be viewed in sentimental terms. He fought a successful battle against cancer and had the team in the playoffs three times. But quarterback Andrew Luck's ongoing shoulder injuries, which began in 2015, revealed that he should be credited with most of the Colts' success under Pagano. Owner Jim Irsay's decision Sunday to fire Pagano was patently fair.

5:25 p.m. ET

5:13 p.m. ET

You can see the impact of Derrick Henry's 66-yard touchdown reception here. Titans are up to a 63% chance to reach the playoffs.

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics625d ago

5:10 p.m. ET

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is trying to be patient with coach Hue Jackson, who is 1-31 in his first two seasons, after years of quick-trigger firings have crippled the franchise. Jackson will return in 2018, Haslam confirmed Sunday. But is Haslam being patient with the right coach? How much will Jackson need to improve the team in 2018 to make it to 2019?

Let's put it this way: It would take a coaching effort for the ages to turn around a team that lost 31 of 32 games. Sometimes "patience" is merely a delay of the inevitable.

4:57 p.m. ET

Drama is heightening in the AFC wild-card race! The Ravens are down 7-0 to the Bengals late in the first quarter, while the Titans are locked in a 0-0 conflict with the Jaguars as they near the second quarter. The Ravens and Titans will be in the playoffs if they win. If not, the door opens for the Bills and the Chargers.

The race for the second wild card spot in the AFC is already tightening. And the Ravens' spot is looking a little less secure, too.

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics625d ago

4:52 p.m. ET

Even though it has nothing to do with playoff seeding and very little to do with draft order, I know you're watching the legend of Jimmy G continue to grow. Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo just led a touchdown drive to put his team up on the Rams 10-0 in the first quarter. L.A. is sitting most of its front-line players, so the 49ers are well on their way to a five-game win streak since they added Garoppolo to the starting lineup.

4:26 p.m. ET

4:23 p.m. ET

Here are the games and playoff scenarios to monitor in the late window (initially posted at the start of the day):

4:15 p.m. ET

The Patriots are the top seed in the AFC after Sunday's victory over the Jets. Realistically, New England's only major obstacle in rolling toward Super Bowl LII is the second-seeded Steelers -- and at least some of Pittsburgh's fortunes depend on whether the Steelers can get receiver Antonio Brown (calf) back in any semblance of his usual self.

4:09 p.m. ET

The Vikings clinched a first-round bye with a 23-10 victory over the Bears.

The rest of the NFC had better look out: There is no team better positioned to represent the conference in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles' struggles after the loss of quarterback Carson Wentz make the balanced Vikings an awfully difficult out in the playoffs. Minnesota's only loss since Oct. 1 was a one-score defeat at the Panthers in Week 14.

4:06 p.m. ET

Browns receiver Corey Coleman had one of the worst drops for one of the worst teams in the history of the NFL. In position to extend a late drive with an easy fourth-down reception on the sideline, Coleman let the ball fumble through his hands and out of bounds. That mistake clinched an 0-16 record for the Browns, who are now a sparkling 1-31 in the past two seasons. The 2008 Lions, who also finished 0-16, now have some company.

3:57 p.m. ET

As the Redskins close the season with a loss to the Giants, you have to wonder: Has Kirk Cousins thrown his final pass for Washington? Cousins is a pending free agent and two-time franchise player. It'll take more than $30 million for the Redskins to tag him a third time, and everything Cousins has done in the past two seasons suggests that he wants to at least test the open market. We shall see ... in about two months.

3:52 p.m. ET

Congratulations to the Giants, who have locked up the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Colts did the Giants a solid with Sunday's 22-13 victory over the Texans. Will New York draft Eli Manning's successor? That's a question that new general manager Dave Gettleman will have to decide.

3:35 p.m. ET

Let's reset the early window with fourth quarters underway:

  • The Patriots are on track to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

  • The Vikings appear to be safely in reach of the NFC's No. 2 seed, which would earn them a first-round bye.

  • The Giants could lock up the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft.

  • The Browns ... are in danger of losing to the Steelers' JV team to become just the second team in NFL history to finish 0-16.

3:14 p.m. ET

When I go to bed dreaming about Week 17, it looks a lot like what we've seen from Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys and Eagles were locked up in a scoreless battle when the fourth quarter began. That hasn't happened in a regular-season game since 2007, according to our friends at ESPN Stats & Information:

3:06 p.m. ET

I hope you don't have Travis Kelce on your fantasy team. Or Tyreek Hill. They're among the healthy players the Chiefs have scratched from their meaningless regular-season finale against the Broncos. What's done is done.

2:55 p.m. ET

Can the Browns avoid an 0-16 season?

They're down to one half to get their first (and only) victory of the season. If they can't do it against the Steelers' JV team, then they deserve to join the 2008 Lions as the only teams in league history to go winless in a 16-game season. A loss today would make them a cool 1-31 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson.

2:41 p.m. ET

The Patriots are 30 game minutes from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They lead the Jets 21-3 at the half. Meanwhile, the Steelers' JV squad hasn't put away the Browns yet. (Pittsburgh leads 21-14 at halftime.) A Patriots win or a Steelers loss -- or both -- would give New England the top seed.

2:39 p.m. ET

The Giants just don't know what's good for 'em. When you're out of the playoff race, Week 17 is about draft position. End of story.

At halftime, the Giants' chance to earn the No. 2 overall pick is down to 50.2%, with the Colts at 49.8%.

Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics625d ago

2:25 p.m. ET

I was sooooooo close.

1:55 p.m. ET

The Vikings entered Sunday with a 99.6 percent chance to earn the NFC's No. 2 seed, according to ESPN's Football Power Index, and they're doing their best in the early going to make it 100 percent. It's a 14-0 lead over the Bears in Minneapolis after two 1-yard touchdowns by tailback Latavius Murray. A victory guarantees the Vikings will have a first-round bye in the playoffs.

1:50 p.m. ET

Ugh. I'm not sure what to make of Nick Foles' tuneup for the playoffs. In one quarter of play, the Eagles quarterback completed four of 11 passes for 39 yards and an interception against the Cowboys. Backup Nate Sudfeld has replaced him and presumably will play the rest of the way.

But suffice it to say, Foles didn't do much to reverse concerns about his ability to lead Philadelphia to the Super Bowl in place of Carson Wentz.

1:35 p.m. ET

It's official. Linebacker James Harrison has gotten actual snaps in his first game with the Patriots. Harrison, as you can see, has remained his usual quirky self since leaving the Steelers.

1:05 p.m. ET

Huh. Wow. I'm shocked that so many people showed up to see whether the Giants will get the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft. A loss to Washington would clinch it.

Opening kickoff at MetLife Stadium for Giants vs. Redskins in what could be Eli Manning's last game with the team. Those here did give Manning a nice cheer before his first pass went to Marquis Bundy.

Jordan Raanan, ESPN Staff Writer625d ago

12:15 p.m. ET

The Chargers need a win and some help to reach the playoffs. ESPN's FPI gives them a 76 percent chance of defeating the Raiders today.

Home-field advantage also remains up for grabs in the AFC, but the FPI gives the Steelers only a 7 percent chance of earning the No. 1 seed with Ben Roethlisberger not starting. The Patriots have a 93 percent chance of beating the Jets to wrap up the top seed.

12:05 p.m. ET

Notable inactives from the 1 p.m. ET games:

10:45 a.m. ET

Of course, the final day of the regular season isn't just about the games -- or even the playoffs. It's also about the usual blitz of coaching changes that takes place when the curtain closes.

Here's what we can tell you at this point, based largely on the reporting of ESPN's Adam Schefter:

  • The Raiders are reportedly ready to throw the franchise at former coach Jon Gruden, who is currently ESPN's Monday Night Football analyst. How badly do the Raiders want Gruden to replace Jack Del Rio? Owner Mark Davis could offer Gruden an ownership take to return to the field. In NFL circles, that's the deepest kind of love.

  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is likely to step away, but he had not informed the team of his plans as of this morning.

  • The Colts are expected to part ways with coach Chuck Pagano.

  • Bears coach John Fox is not expected to return in 2018, while fellow NFC North coach Jim Caldwell could also be in his final days with the Lions.

  • Vance Joseph faces increasingly longer odds of returning for a second season in Denver.

  • In a surprise to some, the Texans are expected to bring back coach Bill O'Brien. Other "hot-seat" coaches who have been reported as likely to return next season: the Jets' Todd Bowles, the Buccaneers' Dirk Koetter and the Redskins' Jay Gruden.

  • Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers and Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees are not expected back in 2018.

10 a.m. ET

Good morning and welcome to Week 17 in the NFL! We explained the full playoff scenarios in this post, but here's a quick rundown of today's important games.

Early window (1 p.m. ET):

Late window (4:25 p.m. ET):