NFL playoff scenarios: Broncos can clinch AFC West, first round bye this week

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos can clinch the AFC West and a first round bye on Thursday, and we take a look at the rest of the Week 15 playoff scenarios.

The Denver Broncos have already secured a spot in the playoffs this season, but still have yet to clinch the AFC West or a first-round bye. They'll take on the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football and of course, winning that game is integral to either scenario.

Denver won't know if they've clinched the division or the bye week until Sunday, though. Still, it all starts with a win, and to clinch the AFC West, they'll need a Kansas City Chiefs loss in Week 15 as well. For the Broncos to clinch a first-round bye, they'd also need a Cincinnati Bengals loss or tie.

Three other AFC teams can clinch playoff spots or more this week. Three NFC teams can also clinch playoff spots this week, while one can clinch a first-round bye.

To finish up the AFC, there's the aforementioned Chiefs, who can seal a playoff spot with a simple win or a tie. Getting more than that will depend on what happens with Denver on Thursday. The New England Patriots need only a Baltimore Ravens loss or tie to clinch a playoff spot, and they can clinch the AFC East with a win or tie of their own.

Finally, the aforementioned Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a win and a Ravens loss, or a tie and a Ravens loss. The Bengals can clinch a playoff spot in general with a win and a Miami loss or tie, or a tie and a Miami loss.

The Seattle Seahawks can clinch a first-round bye and the NFC West division with a win and a San Francisco 49ers loss or tie, or a tie and a 49ers loss. The Seahawks can simply clinch home-field advantage with a win and a San Francisco loss or tie and a New Orleans Saints loss.

There's plenty that can happen for the Saints to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday. The most simple is a win. A simple win will get them a spot, or a tie and an Arizona loss, or a tie and a San Francisco loss. They can clinch the playoffs without winning or tying either, if the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys lose (Dallas can tie) or the Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles lose (Philadelphia can tie). There's also scenarios with all three teams that includes the Cardinals tying, as well.

Moving on, the Panthers can secure a playoff spot with a win, an Arizona loss, a San Francisco loss and either a Dallas or Philadelphia loss or tie. Lastly, the 49ers can clinch a playoff spot with a win, an Arizona loss, and a Dallas or Philadelphia loss or tie.

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