NFL playoff-clinching scenarios: Week 16

Plenty is on the line in Week 16 for several playoff-hopeful teams and others that are looking to improve their playoff positioning.

Four teams in the NFC and two teams in the AFC have clinched at least a playoff berth, with a couple of first-round byes already in their coffers.

Here is how the playoff landscape looks, per the NFL, as the page turns from Week 15 to preparation for Week 16.



New England – AFC East and a first-round bye

Cincinnati – playoff berth

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (at New York Jets, Sunday)

New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

  1. NE win OR
  2. NE tie + CIN loss or tie

CINCINNATI BENGALS (at Denver, Monday)

Cincinnati clinches AFC North division with:

  1. CIN win or tie OR
  2. PIT loss or tie
  3. Cincinnati clinches a first-round bye with:
  4. CIN win or tie

DENVER BRONCOS (vs. Cincinnati, Monday)

Denver clinches AFC West division with:

  1. DEN win + KC loss or tie OR
  2. DEN tie + KC loss

Denver clinches a playoff spot with:

  1. DEN win + NYJ loss or tie  OR
  2. DEN win + PIT loss or tie OR
  3. DEN tie + NYJ loss OR
  4. DEN tie + PIT loss

HOUSTON TEXANS (at Tennessee, Sunday)

Houston clinches AFC South division with:

  1. HOU win + HOU clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over IND OR
  2. HOU win + IND loss or tie OR
  3. HOU tie + IND loss

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (vs. Cleveland, Sunday)  

Kansas City clinches a playoff spot with:

  1. KC win + NYJ loss OR
  2. KC win + PIT loss

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (at Baltimore, Sunday)

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot with:

  1. PIT win + NYJ loss




Carolina – NFC South and a first-round bye

Arizona – NFC West

Green Bay – playoff berth

Seattle – playoff berth

CAROLINA PANTHERS (at Atlanta, Sunday)

Carolina clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. CAR win or tie OR
  2. ARI loss or tie

ARIZONA CARDINALS (vs. Green Bay, Sunday)

Arizona clinches a first-round bye with:

  1. ARI win or tie

GREEN BAY PACKERS (at Arizona, Sunday)

Green Bay clinches NFC North division with:

  1. GB win + MIN loss or tie OR
  2. GB tie + MIN loss

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (vs. New York Giants, Sunday night)

Minnesota clinches a playoff spot with:

  1. MIN win or tie OR
  2. ATL loss or tie OR
  3. SEA win or tie

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (at Philadelphia, Saturday)

Washington clinches NFC East division with:

  1. WAS win OR
  2. WAS tie + NYG loss


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