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Playoff spots, division titles up for grabs in NFL Week 18 on TSN, TSN+

Mason Rudolph Pittsburgh Steelers Mason Rudolph - The Canadian Press

Coverage of the 2023 NFL season continues this week on TSN and TSN+ with the stakes turned up all the way in the final week of the regular season.

With schedules normalized to allow no advantages in the races for playoff spots, Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football are taken out of the equation and Week 18 action kicks off Saturday with a classic division rivalry.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

One of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL opens Week 18 on TSN as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.

These AFC North foes have held a heated rivalry since the Ravens (13-3) entered the league in 1996, and while Baltimore has already secured the top seed in the AFC for the playoffs, the Steelers (9-7) need a win to keep their postseason hopes alive. 

Asked whether the Ravens will rest starters looking ahead to the playoffs, head coach John Harbaugh refused to concede a game against a hated division rival.

"The team we put out there is going to do everything we can to win the game, play our best football game of the season, and win the game against a very tough opponent," said Harbaugh. 

Baltimore is coming off a 56-19 dismantling of the AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins. Quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 18-of-21 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns, which resulted in a perfect passer rating of 158.3. That tied him with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner for the most games with a perfect passer rating in NFL history, with three. 

Pittsburgh has won seven of the past eight games in the series, all by one score or fewer - including a 17-10 victory in Pittsburgh in October this season. They turn to Mason Rudolph to help them clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win. He threw for 274 yards in their 30-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks a week ago. 

Watch the Steelers battle the Ravens at 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT across the TSN Network, on and on the TSN App. 

Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

If the Steelers knock off the Ravens in the afternoon game on Saturday, this essentially becomes a win-or-go-home contest for both the Houston Texans (9-7) and Indianapolis Colts (9-7) in the night slot. 

The Cleveland Browns (11-5) own the top wild-card slot, and five teams enter Week 18 with 10 or nine wins. One of the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7), Colts or Texans will win the AFC South, but barring ties, it will likely take 10 wins to earn one of the two final wild-card slots. 

The Texans got standout rookie QB C.J. Stroud back from injury a week ago, and he helped lead them to a 26-3 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans with 213 passing yards and a touchdown.

Indianapolis, meanwhile, won a 23-20 nail-biter against the Las Vegas Raiders last week to put them in this spot.   

Houston won this matchup 30-21 in Week 2 in Houston, but they've historically struggled to win games in Indianapolis – since the Texans were added to the NFL as an expansion team in 2002, they have a record of 4-17 on the road against the Colts. 

Watch the Texans take on the Colts at 8:15 p.m. ET / 5:15 p.m. PT across the TSN Network, on and on the TSN App. 

NFL Sunday action headlined by RedZone on TSN+

As always, you can also follow all the action around the league Sunday with NFL RedZone on TSN+ starting at 1 p.m ET/10 a.m. PT.

Watch seven hours of commercial-free football with NFL RedZone TSN+.

TSN and TSN+ also have you covered with two games during the 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. window.

A potential battle for the NFC South crown unfolds in the early Sunday slot when the New Orleans Saints (8-8) host the Atlanta Falcons (7-9).

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) are in the driver's seat to win the division title, but if they lose to the Carolina Panthers (2-14) on Sunday, the winner of the Saints-Falcons game wins the division.

Watch the Saints take on the Falcons LIVE on TSN1/4/5, and the TSN App, with coverage starting at 1pm ET / 10am PT.

New Orleans kept their playoff chances alive by beating Tampa Bay 23-13 a week ago, and QB Derek Carr - who threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns and completed 75 per cent of his passes in the win - will need to be equally as sharp Sunday against Atlanta if the Saints hope to steal the division crown.

The Falcons have dropped three of their past four, including a 37-17 trouncing against the Chicago Bears in Week 17. They beat the Saints 24-15 in their first meeting this year in October. 

Meanwhile, TSN+ subscribers can watch the Minnesota Vikings play the Detroit Lions in an NFC North clash.

Subscribe to TSN+ to watch the Vikings vs. the Lions LIVE.

Detroit (11-5) clinched the NFC North title by beating the Vikings (7-9) by a score of 30-24 two weeks ago on Christmas Eve.

Minnesota is still alive in the playoff race despite dropping their last three games. After losing starting QB Kirk Cousins to a torn Achilles in Week 8, the Vikings have been haunted by poor QB play, a problem which has been particularly impactful down the stretch.

In their past six games - five of which have been losses, and the lone win a 3-0 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders - the offence has recorded 15 turnovers against 10 touchdowns.

To qualify for the final wild-card slot in the NFC, the Vikings will need a victory and losses from at least three other teams.

In the afternoon slot, the NFL's oldest rivalry returns for another clash with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Chicago Bears in another NFC North showdown.

Watch the Bears battle the Packers LIVE on TSN1/4/5, and the TSN App starting at 4pm ET / 1pm PT.

The Packers (8-8) need a win and a loss by the Seattle Seahawks and Saints to claim the final wild-card seed in the NFC. The Bears (7-9) cannot qualify for the playoffs, but have won four of their last five games and have renewed hope for next season - and QB Justin Fields, who has played well since returning from a dislocated thumb suffered midway through the season.

"No one in here thinks Justin's not a top quarterback," one veteran Bears player said. "No one would tell you that. Everyone believes he's a top-10 quarterback in the league."

Fields threw for 268 yards and a touchdown, and added 45 yards and a touchdown on the ground in the win against the Falcons. He will need to be equally strong to top Jordan Love and the Packers to prevent them from qualifying for a playoff spot.

Over his last six games - four of which have been wins - Love has thrown for 252 yards per game with 14 touchdowns and one interception.

Week 18 wraps up with Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins for AFC East title

It all comes down to this for the Bills: beat the Dolphins and they earn a fourth-consecutive AFC East title. Lose, and they may miss the playoffs entirely (depending on other results this weekend). 

Buffalo has won four straight and five of their last six since firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey after a loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 10. 

In 10 games with Dorsey at the helm, the team averaged 108.1 rushing yards per game. In their six games with Brady leading the offence, that number has spiked to 167.3. The offence is scoring 28 points per game with Brady, compared to 26.2 with Dorsey. 

In their first meeting of the year, Buffalo overwhelmed the Dolphins 48-20 at home, when Josh Allen completed 21 of 25 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns to earn a perfect passer rating. 

Miami was throttled in their last game against Baltimore, but they were without key contributors on offence in wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (high ankle sprain) and running back Raheem Mostert (ankle injury).

The league's highest-scoring offence (30.3 points per game) will have a good chance of getting back on track against Buffalo if they can get one or both of those players back. 

You can watch the Bills battle the Dolphins LIVE on TSN1/5, and the TSN App on Sunday, with coverage starting at 8:15 p.m. ET / 5:15 p.m. PT.