Week 16 NFL Playoff Scenarios

The Patriots can clinch the AFC East with either a victory at Baltimore or a Miami loss to the Jets, and eight other teams could clinch a playoff spot this week if things fall their way. Denver, Kansas City and Indianapolis have already secured a post-season spot, leaving just three open slots among six teams still in contention in the AFC. Seattle is the only team in the NFC that has locked up a playoff spot, with nine teams still in the hunt for those five other slots.

Here is a look at the week 16 playoff scenarios and probabilities for each team, as well as a look at the eight division titles.

 

AFC Week 16 Clinching Scenarios

#1 seed Denver Broncos (11-3)
Remaining schedule: at Houston, at Oakland
1.) Denver has already clinched a playoff spot
2.) The Broncos can clinch both the AFC West division title as well as at least a #2 seed (i.e., a first-round bye) with both:
(a) a win at Houston, PLUS
(b) a loss by Kansas City
3.) Denver can clinch the #1 seed with:
(a) a win at Houston, PLUS
(b) a loss by Kansas City, PLUS
(c) a loss by New England
Denver could finish anywhere from the #1 to #5 seed.


The Ravens host the Patriots Sunday in a game which holds huge playoff implications for both clubs
(USA TODAY Images)

#2 seed New England Patriots (10-4)
at Baltimore, home vs Buffalo
1.) The Patriots can clinch the AFC East division title with either:
(a) a win at Baltimore, OR
(b) a loss by Miami
2.) In addition to the above, the Patriots can also clinch a playoff spot with:
(a) a loss by Cincinnati
3.) The Pats can clinch a first-round bye with:
(a) a win at Baltimore, AND
(b) a loss by Cincinnati, AND
(c) a loss by Indinapolis
New England could finish anywhere but the #5 seed, or miss the playoffs entirely.

#3 seed Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)
home vs Minnesota, home vs Baltimore
1.) Cincy can clinch the AFC North with both:
(a) a win, AND
(b) a loss by Baltimore
2.) In addition, the Bengals can clinch a playoff spot with:
(a) a win, AND
(b) a loss by Miami
Cincinnati could finish anywhere but the #5 seed, or miss the playoffs entirely.

#4 seed Indianapolis Colts (9-5)
at Kansas City, home vs Jacksonville
Indianapolis has already clinched the AFC South.
Indy lost to Cincinnati, so they need to finish with a better record than the Bengals to move ahead of them to a higher seed. The Colts could pass New England if they win twice and the Patriots lose at least once, since Indy would have a better conference record than the Pats.
The Colts could finish anywhere from the #1 to #4 seed.

#5 seed Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
home vs Indianapolis, at San Diego
The Chiefs have already clinched a playoff spot.
Kansas City must win at least one more game than Denver over the next two weeks to win the division.
KC can do no worse than the number five seed.

#6 seed Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
home vs Patriots, at Cincinnati
The Ravens can clinch a playoff spot with:
(a) a win at home versus New England, PLUS
(b) a loss by Miami, PLUS
(c) a loss by San Diego
Baltimore beat Miami so they would win a head-to-head tiebreaker; if they win out, or one Baltimore win and one Miami loss over the last two games puts them in the playoffs as well. Baltimore takes the division if they win out, or if both the Ravens and Bengals lose this week and the Ravens beat Cincinnati next week.
The Ravens could finish as the #2, #3, #4 or #6 seed, or could miss the playoffs.

#7 seed Miami Dolphins (8-6)
at Buffalo, home vs NY Jets
Miami can clinch a playoff spot with:
(a) a win, PLUS
(b) a loss by Cincinnati, PLUS
(c) a loss by Baltimore
The Dolphins could finish as the #2, #3, #4 or #6 seed, or could miss the playoffs.

No week 16 clinching scenarios for #8 San Diego (7-7) or #9 Pittsburgh (6-8); both teams can only finish as the #6 seed if they make the playoffs.

The Chargers need to win both remaining games while both Baltimore and Miami lose both of their games to make the playoffs. San Diego finishes home versus Oakland and Kansas City.

Pittsburgh needs to win twice while (a) Baltimore loses twice, plus (b) Miami loses twice, plus (c) the Jets win twice, and also (d) the Chargers lose at least once. The Steelers finish at Green Bay and home versus Cleveland.

Already eliminated: 6-8 Jets, 5-9 Titans and Bills, 4-10 Raiders, Jaguars and Browns, and 2-12 Texans.

 

NFC Week 16 Clinching Scenarios

#1 seed Seattle Seahawks (12-2)
home vs Arizona, home vs St. Louis
1.) Already clinched a playoff berth in week 13
2.) Can clinch the NFC West division title, a first-round bye, and the number #1 seed with:
(a) a win, PLUS
(b) a San Francisco loss
The only way Seattle does not win the NFC West is if they lose twice and San Francisco wins twice.
The Seahawks can only be the #1, #2 or #5 seed.

#2 seed New Orleans Saints (10-4)
at Carolina, home vs Tampa Bay
1.) Can clinch both the NFC South and at least a #2 seed (first round bye) with a win
2.) Can clinch playoff spot with:
(a) a win, OR
(b) a loss by Arizona
Th Saints could be the #1 or #2 seed as NFC South division winners, or the #5 or #6 seed – or they could miss the playoffs entirely. Over the next two weeks a single win, an Arizona loss, or two losses by San Francisco clinches a playoff spot. If New Orleans loses to Carolina then they would have to beat the Bucs plus have the Panthers lose to Atlanta to win the division.

#3 seed Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)
home vs Chicago, at Dallas
1.) Can clinch the NFC East division title with both:
(a) a win, PLUS
(b) a loss by Dallas
The Eagles could be the #3 or #4 seed as NFC East division winners, or they could miss the playoffs.

#4 seed Chicago Bears (8-6)
at Philadelphia, home vs Green Bay
1.) Can clinch the NFC North division title with all of:
(a) a win, PLUS
(b) a Detroit loss, PLUS
(c) a Green Bay loss
The Bears could be the #3 or #4 seed as NFC North division winners, or they could miss the playoffs.

#5 seed Carolina Panthers (10-4)
home vs New Orleans, at Atlanta
1.) Can clinch a playoff berth with:
(a) a win, OR
(b) losses by both Arizona and San Francisco
If Carolina wins their final two games they win the NFC South and a first round bye. Since they lost to Arizona they would lose a tiebreaker to the Cardinals if a playoff spot comes down to that.
The Panthers can still be the #1, #2, #5 or #6 seed, or they could miss the playoffs.

#6 seed San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
home vs Atlanta, at Arizona
1.) Can clinch a playoff berth with:
(a) a win, OR
(b) a loss by Arizona
SF can win the NFC West with two wins, plus two Seattle losses. If they win either of their last two games they are in the playoffs regardless of what happens to other teams.
The 49ers could still be the #1, #2, #5 or #6 seed, or they could miss the playoffs.

#7 seed Arizona (9-5) cannot clinch a playoff spot this week; they can finish as the #5 seed, #6 seed, or miss the playoffs. The Cardinals finish at Seattle and at home versus the 49ers.

#8 seed Green Bay (7-6-1) cannot clinch a playoff spot this week; they can finish as the #3 or #4 seed as the NFC North champions, or miss the playoffs. The Packers still control their own destiny though; with victories at home versus Pittsburgh and then at Chicago they win the division.

#9 seed Detroit Lions (7-7) cannot clinch a playoff spot this week; they can finish as the #3 or #4 seed as the NFC North champions, or miss the playoffs. The Lions finish home versus the Giants and at Minnesota; to make the playoffs they need to win both of those games, plus have Green Bay and Chicago lose at least once each. Detroit holds the tiebreaker over the Bears since they swept Chicago.

#10 seed Dallas Cowboys (7-7) cannot clinch a playoff spot this week; they can finish as the #3 or #4 seed as the NFC East champions, or miss the playoffs. The Cowboys finish at Washington and home versus Philadelphia. If Dallas wins both games they are in as the NFC East champion, and they can also get in if Philly loses both of their final two games.

Already eliminated: 6-8 St. Louis, 5-9 NY Giants, 4-9-1 Minnesota, 4-10 Tampa Bay, 4-10 Atlanta and 3-11 Washington.

 

Division Scenarios and Probabilities

AFC East
Patriots 97%, Dolphins 3%
The only way New England does not win the division is if the patriots lose twice and Miami wins twice, in which case the Dolphins win.

AFC North
Bengals 81%, Ravens 19%
Baltimore takes the division if they win twice, or if Cincinnati loses both games; otherwise the Bengals take it. Both teams control their own destiny; the week 17 contest determines the division title.

AFC South
Colts 100%
Indianapolis has clinched the division.

AFC West
Broncos 90%, Chiefs 10%
The Chiefs need to win twice plus Denver lose at least one, or win at least once while Denver loses twice to win the division; any other scenario and the Broncos are the champs.

NFC East
Eagles 53%, Cowboys 47%
If either Dallas or Philadelphia wins out then that club takes the NFC. Philly can also win by beating the Bears if Dallas loses to Washington. Similar to the AFC North, the week 17 game will most likely be essentially a win or the season is over game.

NFC North
Bears 51%, Packers 32%, Lions 17%
Both Chicago and Green Bay control their own destiny; if either wins out they are division champs. The Bears clinch with a win plus losses by both Green Bay and Detroit, and they also can also take it even if they lose to Philly as long as Detroit loses once and if they beat the Packers next week. The Lions need to win out and have both Chicago and Green Bay lose at least once apiece. This will probably be a third division that will be decided by a play-in game in week 17 when Green Bay is at Chicago.

NFC South
Carolina needs to win both of their last two games to win the division. While we have what is shaping up to be three in-division matchups to determine division winners in week 17, this one will happen this Sunday instead. New Orleans could still win the division with a loss to Carolina if they win and the Panthers lose in week 17.

NFC West
Seahawks 98%, 49ers 2%
For San Francisco to win the NFCW they need to win twice plus have Seattle lose twice; any other combination and the Seahawks are division winners.

 

AFC Seeding Probabilities

#1: Broncos 83%; Chiefs 10%; Patriots 7%; Bengals and Colts less than 1%
#2: Patriots 55%; Bengals 28%; Broncos 7%, Colts 7%, Ravens 1%, Dolphins 1%, KC >1%
#3: Bengals 46%, Patriots 23%, Colts 19%, Ravens 11%, Dolphins 1%, KC/Den >1%
#4: Colts 74%, Patriots 11%, Bengals 7%, Ravens 7%, Dolphins 1%, Broncos >1%
#5: Chiefs 90%, Broncos 10%
#6: Dolphins 70%, Ravens 18%, Bengals 8%, Patriots 2%, Chargers 2%, Steelers >1%

NFC Seeding Probabilities

#1: Seahawks 98%, Saints 1%, Panthers 1%, 49ers >1%
#2: Saints 54%, Panthers 45%, 49ers 1%, Seahawks >1%
#3: Bears 37%, Eagles 35%, Packers 19%, Lions 7%, Cowboys 2%
#4: Cowboys 45%, Eagles 18%, Bears 14%, Packers 13%, Lions 10%
#5: 49ers 52%, Panthers 24%, Saints 21%, Seahawks 2%, Cardinals 1%
#6: 49ers 45%, Panthers 24%, Saints 23%, Cardinals 7%

 

Team-by-Team Playoff Probabilities

100% — Denver Broncos
100% — Indianapolis Colts
100% — Kansas City Chiefs
99% — New England Patriots
89% — Cincinnati Bengals
73% — Miami Dolphins
36% — Baltimore Ravens
2% —- San Diego Chargers
>1% — Pittsburgh Steelers

100% — Seattle Seahawks
99% — New Orleans Saints
98% — San Francisco 49ers
94% — Carolina Panthers
53% — Philadelphia Eagles
51% — Chicago Bears
47% — Dallas Cowboys
32% — Green Bay Packers
17% — Detroit Lions
8% —- Arizona Cardinals

 

 

 

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