NFL playoff-clinching scenarios

Four teams have clinched a piece of the playoffs, but many more are certain to do that this week in the NFL. A look at the scenarios inside.

NFL Week 16 holds plenty of playoff-clinching scenarios.

The New Orleans Saints made their path to the playoffs pretty clear-cut with their win over the Chicago Bears on Monday. If the Saints win this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, who are still in the NFC South division race, the Saints would only need a loss by the Carolina Panthers, who host the Cleveland Browns, for the Saints to win the division and make it to the playoff without a winning record.

At best, the winner of the NFC South will have a .500 record. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9) are the only team to make the playoffs with a losing record in a 16-game season, and it’s possible a team from the NFC South could double that total this year.

With two weeks to play in the regular season, the only thing that has been clinched in the NFC is a playoff spot by the Arizona Cardinals (11-3).

In the AFC, the Denver Broncos (11-3) have clinched the AFC West, the Indianapolis Colts (10-4) have clinched the AFC South and the New England Patriots (11-3) have clinched the AFC East.

But Week 16 in the NFL has much at stake for the playoffs. Here are the playoff scenarios for this week for the contending teams that can clinch a piece of the playoffs or more:

AFC



CLINCHED:
Denver – AFC West
Indianapolis – AFC South
New England – AFC East

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (at New York Jets)

New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1) NE win + DEN loss

New England clinches a first-round bye with:
1) NE win OR
2) NE tie + IND loss or tie OR
3) IND loss + CIN loss or tie + PIT loss or tie + BAL loss or tie

DENVER BRONCOS (at Cincinnati)

Denver clinches a first-round bye with:
1) DEN win OR
2) DEN tie + IND loss or tie

CINCINNATI BENGALS (vs. Denver)

Cincinnati clinches AFC North division with:
1) CIN win + PIT loss + BAL loss or tie

Cincinnati clinches a playoff spot with:
1) CIN win OR
2) CIN tie + BAL loss OR
3) CIN tie + KC loss or tie + SD loss or tie OR
4) KC loss + SD loss + BUF loss or tie

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (vs. Kansas City)

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot with:
1) PIT win

BALTIMORE RAVENS (at Houston)

Baltimore clinches a playoff spot with:
1) BAL win + PIT loss + CIN loss OR
2) BAL win + KC loss or tie + SD loss or tie OR
3) BAL tie + KC loss + SD loss + BUF loss or tie

NFC



CLINCHED:
Arizona – playoff spot

ARIZONA CARDINALS (vs. Seattle)

Arizona clinches NFC West division and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:
1) ARI win

DETROIT LIONS (at Chicago)

Detroit clinches NFC North division with:
1) DET win + GB loss

Detroit clinches a first-round bye with:
1) DET win + GB loss + DAL loss

Detroit clinches a playoff spot with:
1) DET win OR
2) DET tie + PHI loss or tie OR
3) PHI loss

DALLAS COWBOYS (vs. Indianapolis)

Dallas clinches NFC East division with:
1) DAL win + PHI loss or tie OR
2) DAL tie + PHI loss

Dallas clinches a playoff spot with:
1) DAL win + GB loss or tie + DET loss or tie as long as both don't tie

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (at Arizona)

Seattle clinches a playoff spot with:
1) SEA win + PHI loss or tie OR
2) SEA win + DET loss or tie OR
3) SEA win + GB loss or tie OR
4) SEA tie + PHI loss OR
5) SEA tie + DET loss + GB loss OR
6) PHI loss + DAL win or tie

GREEN BAY PACKERS (at Tampa Bay)

Green Bay clinches a playoff spot with:
1) GB win + PHI loss or tie OR
2) GB win + DAL win or tie OR
3) GB tie + PHI loss OR
4) GB tie + PHI tie + DAL win or tie OR
5) PHI loss + DAL win or tie

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (vs. Atlanta)

New Orleans clinches NFC South division with:
1) NO win + CAR loss


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