NFL Playoff Scenarios Week 16 with Expert Predictions
We are 15 weeks into a 17-week NFL season, and we don't know a whole lot about what the postseason will look like. That's not entirely true - we know who eight of the 12 playoff teams are going to be, and we can make a pretty confident guess about two others. But not a single team is locked into a specific playoff spot, so there is a whole lot left to be determined. There are playoff implications involved in 10 of the 16 games on the Week 16 schedule , so there is a whole lot to keep track of when it comes to playoff implications. Here is how it all breaks down:
New England and Buffalo has both clinched playoff spots, but there is a lot left to be determined. The two teams play this week , which further adds to the drama. With a win, New England clinches the division. If Kansas City also loses one of their final two, New England would get a bye as well - their 10th in a row, which is just ridiculous. But if Buffalo wins this, then they need to beat the Jets in the finale and have the Patriots lose to the Dolphins. New England also has a small chance of winning the conference, but they would need to win out and see the Ravens lose their final two.
Baltimore has long since clinched the division and can clinch the conference title with a win in one of their final two against Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a decent shot at a wild card spot against all odds, too. They are tied with the Titans for the last spot right now. All they can do is post their best record and hope it is enough. They face the Jets this week, and a Ravens team that could have everything wrapped up and be looking for rest next week. If that plays out, the Steelers could run the table.
Houston has a one-game edge in the division. They can clinch it with a win or a Tennessee loss. If they lose, they can still clinch a playoff spot of some sort if Pittsburgh loses a game. Tennessee faces the same situation as the Steelers - win out and hope it's enough for that last wild card spot.
The Chiefs have had this division clinched officially for a long time - and unofficially for much longer. They have an outside chance at a bye, but that would require them to win out and have the Patriots lose one of their final two. New England isn't likely to do that. The Chiefs also lost to both the Texans and Titans, so they need to do enough to make sure they stay ahead of the winner of the South. If they don't, they would have to play the Ravens in the second round - and no one wants to do that.
The most pathetic division in football is still a wide-open race. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles this week, they clinch the division. If the Eagles win, they will need to make sure they don't wind up tied with the Cowboys in the end. The team that doesn't win the division has already been eliminated from the wild card race - another sign of how terrible the division is.
Green Bay has clinched a playoff spot, and with a win or tie in one of their last two they clinch the division. They play the Vikings , though, so things get interesting. The Vikings can clinch a wild card spot before this game is played if the Rams lose or tie on Saturday. If Minnesota wins this week, they would still need to win their finale and have the Packers lose to win the division.
Green Bay is one of four teams that are tied at 11-3 with the best record in the NFC at this point. So Green Bay is also in play for a bye. With so many teams in the mix, they can really just win out and hope for the best.
The Saints have had this division wrapped up forever. Like the Packers, they could finish anywhere from first to third in the conference, so a bye is on the line if they keep winning.
Things are very tense here, as the Seahawks and Niners are the other two teams that are at 11-3. They could be in line for a bye, but first they have to win the division. Seattle plays the Cardinals, and San Francisco plays the Rams. If both win, then these two teams meet in Seattle with the division, and perhaps a bye, on the line. It doesn't get much more exciting than that.
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