Posted December 19, 2013

NFL Playoff Picture: Clinching scenarios for teams entering Week 16

AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, NFL Playoffs
Eagles-Bears Sunday night could loom as one of the most important games of the NFL season.

Eagles-Bears Sunday night could loom as one of the most important games of the NFL season. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Here’s how the AFC and NFC playoff pictures look headed into Week 16:

AFC

1. Denver Broncos (11-3): AFC West leader *
2. New England Patriots (10-4): AFC East leader
3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5): AFC North leader
4. Indianapolis Colts (9-5): AFC South leader *
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3): Wild card *
6. Baltimore Ravens (8-6): Wild card

In the Hunt: Miami Dolphins (8-6), San Diego Chargers (7-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8)

(* = has clinched playoff berth)

The AFC playoff scenarios for Week 16 are as follows:

• Denver clinches the AFC West and a first-round bye with a win plus a Kansas City loss. The Broncos would clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with those two outcomes and a New England loss.

• New England clinches the AFC East with a win or tie, or a Miami loss or tie (a Cincinnati loss also would clinch a playoff spot for the Patriots). The Patriots clinch a first-round bye with a win, Cincinnati loss or tie and an Indianapolis loss or tie; or a tie and losses by Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

• Cincinnati clinches the AFC North with a win plus a Baltimore loss or tie, or a tie and Baltimore loss. The Bengals can secure a playoff spot with a win and a Miami loss or tie, or a tie and a Miami loss.

• Baltimore clinches a playoff spot with a win plus a Miami loss and a San Diego loss or tie.

• Miami clinches a playoff spot with a win plus losses by Baltimore and Cincinnati.

At least one of the AFC’s spots will be up for grabs headed to Week 17, regardless of what goes on this Sunday and Monday. But all four division titles could be sewn up by that point, as the Broncos, Patriots and Bengals all have scenarios that would allow them to clinch this week.

The Steelers need a long list of circumstances to fall their direction to even stay alive beyond this week. The Chargers could fall by the wayside too, if they lose or both the Ravens and Dolphins win — either scenario would bounce San Diego from contention.

Two games that loom very large: New England at Baltimore and Indianapolis at Kansas City. The latter could be a wild-card round preview, but the Chiefs still have their eyes on the No. 1-overall seed. Indianapolis still could secure a first-round bye as well, with a little help. And while the Patriots need a win to clinch the AFC East, the Ravens not only still have a shot at a wild card but also control their own destiny in the AFC North race.

NFC

1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2): NFC West leader *
2. New Orleans Saints (10-4): NFC South leader
3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6): NFC East leader
4. Chicago Bears (8-6): NFC North leader
5. Carolina Panthers (10-4)Wild card
6. San Francisco 49ers (10-4)Wild card

In the Hunt: Arizona Cardinals (9-5), Green Bay Packers (7-6-1), Detroit Lions (7-7), Dallas Cowboys (7-7)

The NFC playoff scenarios for Week 16 are as follows:

• Seattle clinches the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win or tie, or a San Francisco loss or tie.

• New Orleans clinches the NFC South and a first-round bye with a win. The Saints also could clinch a playoff spot by virtue of a tie plus an Arizona loss; a tie plus a San Francisco loss or tie; a tie plus an Arizona tie; or a San Francisco loss and Arizona tie.

• Carolina clinches a playoff spot with a win, or a tie and a loss by either Arizona or San Francisco, or losses by both Arizona and San Francisco.

• San Francisco clinches a playoff spot with a win or an Arizona loss, or ties by both teams.

Philadelphia clinches the NFC East with a win plus a Dallas loss or tie, or a tie and Dallas loss.

• Chicago clinches the NFC North with a win plus a Green Bay loss and a Detroit loss or tie.

The game that stands out on the NFC schedule for Week 16 is New Orleans’ trip to Carolina. A win there by the Saints coupled with a Seattle victory over Arizona would set in stone the top two seeds for this conference. Carolina could leapfrog New Orleans into the No. 2 spot with a win, though, which might force the Saints to win in Week 17 or risk missing the playoffs entirely.

The pressure’s on the Cowboys (at Washington), Packers (vs. Pittsburgh) and Lions (vs. the Giants) to stay alive, but the North-East crossover game between Chicago and Philadelphia on Sunday night looms as one of the most important of this entire NFL season. The loser there would face a do-or-die game in Week 17 — and the winner might, too.

Arizona is the only team listed as “In the Hunt” that could steal a wild-card spot. It’s division title or bust for Green Bay, Detroit and Dallas.

27 comments
cpauld2004
cpauld2004

As it stands right now, I hear for Miami to get in, they have to win and EITHER Baltimore or San Diego must lose.  For Baltimore to get in, they must win and EITHER Miami or San Diego must lose.  Who gets in if they both win and San Diego loses?

fabio.fantone
fabio.fantone

Shouldn't the Eagles also be in the "division title or bust" grouping?

vman73
vman73

THE SEAHWAKS ARE A TEAM OF DESTINY!!! LETS ALL FACE IT!! THEY HAVE ALL THE RIGHT PECIES IN PLACE TO WIN IT ALL!!!  

1) NUMBER 1 DEFENSE

2)WELL BALANCED OFFENSE

3) GREAT KICKER

4) A BIG PLAY QB

5)AND HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE!!!!

IT REALLY HARD TO SEE ANYONE TOPPING THAT!!!!!!!

ornzo63
ornzo63

Kansas City and Denver are tied at top of AFC West.  Maybe you should recognize that and add how KC could clinch division and home field advantage in playoffs.

Chuckster
Chuckster

Watch out for the Ravens.....   That said, I still like the Broncos - Seahawks in MetLife in February.

beast
beast

People make the mistake of thinking a team in the post season is the same team of the 1st half of the season. 

The Broncos, Colts, Patriots, Chiefs, Saints are not looking as good as earlier in the season. Injuries are hurting them but also because teams adjusted to them. 


Meanwhile The Eagles, 49ers, Ravens, Dolphins are getting stronger. 


So in January we may see Sep-Oct Juggernauts lose to December Juggernauts. 


We'll see if The Broncos, Colts, Patriots, Chiefs, Saints can recover in the next 2 weeks. The Pats and Saints look ready to fall. 


Rickapolis
Rickapolis

And Washington can clinch if outer space aliens beam up the entire roster of Philadelphia, Dallas and the New York Football Giants. In which case Robert Griffin will be reactivated and issued a new knee brace.

Chris8
Chris8

I feel like this is the most exciting time of the entire NFL season.  Sure the playoffs have a lot of energy, but it doesn't quite present the added chaos of the last two weeks of the regular season. The decision to emphasis intra-divisional games the end of the season was one of the smarter changes the league has made. 

Willmac7496
Willmac7496

Is it me or is having the NFL tell you who to hire a scary proposition?

aeppbp
aeppbp

As a Saints fan not feeling good for a road win at Carolina.  Saints still clinch a wild card even with a loss if Arizona losses to Seattle.  Best Arizona could do is a tie and Saints hold tiebreaker since they beat Arizona.  Of course....that probably means one and done in the playoffs,

raven_fan
raven_fan

chris

thanks for for all nice work. one question: what happens in ravens win both their games (meaning both patriots and bengals would lose) and patriots lose their other game too and dolphins win both games? does that mean, dolphins take afc east, raven nfc north and a bye? i am assuming that chiefs will beat the colts.

RandallAllen
RandallAllen

Seahawks play Arizona--not St. Louis--on Sunday.

RCH
RCH

Pretty sure the Saints clinch at least a wild card spot with a Cardinals loss regardless of what the Saints do against Carolina.

Mikey A
Mikey A

@vman73 OH MY GOD LOUD NOIESE I AM SO EXICETED THIS TEEAM IS GIONG PLACESE GO HAWKS GO BIRDS LUOD NOSIES !

bulletrico
bulletrico

@vman73 It's going to be so funny when this so called "Team of Destiny"... gets their azzes whipped at a time when you just know you got it!!!!

rjlawson07
rjlawson07

@ornzo63 I believe this applies to Week 16 only, in which there are no scenarios for KC to clinch the #1 seed and home-field advantage. If KC wins and DEN loses this weekend (best case scenario), the Chiefs still have to win next week to clinch. The author references the Chiefs are still alive for the #1 position, but nothing in Week 16 can finalize it for them.

dan-o
dan-o

@raven_fan Ravens still have to win out to have the AFC North. The Bengals are still 1 game up on them.

SPHeroid
SPHeroid

@raven_fan The Ravens do not play in the NFC north....

Do try to pay attention......

piizzadude
piizzadude

@Richard--Ramirez If Rodgers comes back, and they win this week, it will come down to week 17 and a very good chance that they make it in.