NFL playoff scenarios, Week 16: Bengals, Redskins, Seahawks can all clinch this week


The playoff picture could get a little more focused this week.

There are two weeks left in the regular season. The postseason is on the horizon, an enticement to get you through the madness of the holidays, assuming your team still has a shot at playing football in January (Jaguars fans, you may start thinking about the draft - the 2014 draft). We should know more about which teams are headed to the postseason after this weekend and some idea about what the seeding order looks like.

Five teams can clinch playoff spots this week. Three more can secure either a first-round bye or home-field advantage. Two teams can sew up a division title. Let's start by taking a look at this week's most important games. Note - these are not the only games with playoff implications, but these games will go a long way toward determining what the final playoff picture looks like.

Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles - Philly is going through the motions at this point, but proved to be somewhat effective at it last week. But East Coast Norv Turner has no playoff hopes; all eyes are on the Redskins. Washington needs a win along with losses by the Giants, Vikings and Bears to clinch a playoff spot. What that means is RGIII and the Cowboys will probably be playing for all the marbles in Week 17.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks - San Francisco can secure the NFC West, which isn't as funny as it used to be, with a win in Seattle. That is easier said than done. A 49ers' win and a Green Bay loss would give the Niners a bye. Seattle has its own aspirations, with mini-RGIII. A win would guarantee Seattle a playoff spot.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - A win in Pittsburgh would clinch a post in the postseason for the Bengals. A loss would give the Steelers new life in aiming for another postseason bid.

New York Giants vs. Baltimore Ravens - Any minute now, Jim Caldwell's game plan is going to kick into gear, sending Joe Flacco to the stratosphere of eliteness. Maybe not. If the Ravens do win this one, they will be the AFC North champs. Baltimore already has a playoff spot. The Giants need to win if they're to keep hope alive in the NFC East race. A loss would at least finally, maybe be the start of the Giants eclipsing the Jets for coverage in the nation's largest media market.

To save me from writing out all the numerous scenarios and you from having to read my hackishness, here's a handy dandy chart from the gang over at Cincy Jungle:



New England AFC East
Denver AFC West
Houston AFC South
Baltimore Playoff Berth


Clinch AFC North BAL Win OR
BAL tie + CIN loss or tie


Clinches First-Round Bye HOU or tie OR
NE loss or tie OR
DEN loss
Clinches Home-Field Advantage HOU win OR
HOU tie + DEN loss or tie OR
NE loss or tie + DEN loss


Clinches First-Round Bye DEN win + NE loss or tie OR
DEN tie + NE loss


Clinches Playoff Spot IND win or tie OR
IND clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over CIN OR
PIT loss or tie


Clinches Playoff Spot CIN Win



Atlanta NFC South
Green Bay NFC North
San Francisco Playoff Berth


Clinches First-Round Bye ATL win or tie OR
GB loss or tie OR
SF loss
Clinches Home-Field Advantage ATL win OR
ATL tie + SF loss or tie OR
GB loss or tie + SF loss


Clinches NFC West SF win or tie
Clinches First-Round Bye SF win + GB loss or tie OR
SF tie + GB loss


Clinches Playoff Spot WAS win + NYG loss + CHI loss + MIN loss


Clinches Playoff Spot SEA win OR
SEA tie + NYG loss + CHI loss or tie OR
SEA tie + NYG loss + MIN loss or tie OR
SEA tie + CHI loss or tie + MIN loss or tie OR
SEA tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + CHI loss or tie OR
SEA tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + MIN loss or tie OR
CHI loss + MIN loss + WAS loss OR
CHI loss + MIN loss + DAL loss or tie + WAS tie


Clinches Playoff Spot NYG win + CHI loss + MIN loss + DAL loss + WAS loss or tie OR
NYG win + CHI loss + MIN loss + WAS loss + DAL tie
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