NFL playoff scenarios for Week 17

The NFC is set for teams but not positioning. The AFC has two teams that can still get in that aren’t currently in the top six.

All that’s left in the NFC is positioning among the top six teams – the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks.

The AFC is another animal.

Two teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts are still hoping to get into the playoffs. The road for the Colts is a daunting one. For the Steelers, if they win and the NY Jets lose, Pittsburgh is in and the Jets are out.

Right now, the top six teams (in order) in the AFC are the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and the Jets. All but the Jets and Texans have clinched a playoff spot.

Here are all the permutations of what can happen for the playoffs in Week 17 (we expect you to memorize and repeat the Colts’ situation among friends tonight):

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 17

AFC  

CLINCHED

New England – AFC East and a first-round bye

Cincinnati – AFC North

Denver – playoff berth

Kansas City – playoff berth

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (at Miami)

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

  1. NE win or tie OR
  2. DEN loss or tie  

DENVER BRONCOS (vs. San Diego)

Denver clinches AFC West division with:

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

Denver clinches a first-round bye with:

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

Denver clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs:

  1. DEN win + NE loss

CINCINNATI BENGALS (vs. Baltimore)

Cincinnati clinches a first-round bye with:

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

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (vs. Oakland)

Kansas City clinches AFC West division with:

  1. KC win + DEN loss

NEW YORK JETS (at Buffalo)

The New York Jets clinch a playoff spot with:

  1. NYJ win or tie OR
  2. PIT loss or tie

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (at Cleveland)

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot with:

  1. PIT win + NYJ loss

HOUSTON TEXANS (vs. Jacksonville)

Houston clinches AFC South division with:

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

Note: HOU clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over IND if one of the following teams wins or ties: CIN, NE, NO, NYJ, SD

HOU clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over IND if KC wins or ties and BAL wins or ties as long as both teams don't tie

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (vs. Tennessee)

Indianapolis clinches AFC South division with:

  1. IND win + HOU loss + IND ties HOU in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over HOU

Note: IND ties HOU in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over HOU if BOTH of the following occurs:

  • a) all of the following teams win: ATL, BAL, BUF, DEN, MIA
  • b) OAK win or tie + PIT win or tie as long as both teams don't tie

If Houston and Indianapolis end up tied in strength of victory and tied in strength of schedule, the teams would then go to the next tiebreaker, which is best combined ranking among AFC teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.

NFC

CLINCHED

Carolina – NFC South and a first-round bye

Arizona – NFC West and a first-round bye

Washington – NFC East

Green Bay – playoff berth

Minnesota – playoff berth

Seattle – playoff berth

CAROLINA PANTHERS (vs. Tampa Bay)

Carolina clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

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

ARIZONA CARDINALS (vs. Seattle)

Arizona clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. ARI win + CAR loss

GREEN BAY PACKERS (vs. Minnesota, Sunday night)

Green Bay clinches NFC North division with:

  1. GB win or tie

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (at Green Bay, Sunday night)

Minnesota clinches NFC North division with:

  1. MIN win

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