Update: The Cowboys were the first team to clinch this week, locking up the NFC East and home-field advantage in the playoffs when the Giants lost to the Eagles on Thursday night.
Four teams — the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and Dallas Cowboys — have clinched playoff spots for 2017. Nine more can join them in Week 16.
The Chiefs, Lions, and Giants will all hope the second time’s the charm as they enter Sunday with an opportunity to earn a postseason bid in back-to-back weeks. Kansas City and Detroit both suffered tough defeats that threatened their chances to claim division titles. New York came out on the happy side of its matchup with the Lions, but wins from Washington and the Packers denied Eli Manning a guaranteed playoff berth on Sunday.
The Texans, Dolphins, Steelers, Falcons, Packers, and Buccaneers will each have their first opportunities to extend their season this weekend. Pittsburgh can complete its rally from 4-5 washout to 10-5 AFC North champions by getting revenge on the Ravens in a rematch of their Week 9 showdown. The Dolphins can give the AFC East a second playoff team for just the first time since 2010 by rallying behind backup quarterback Matt Moore, who is subbing in for the injured Ryan Tannehill.
Things get complicated the deeper you look at the league’s Wild Card spots. The Packers and Buccaneers both need wins, and then a whole lot of help from teams across the conference to lock down a postseason bid. That’s better than Washington’s fate, however. Kirk Cousins’ team had the opportunity to control its own destiny, but lost to the Panthers on Monday Night Football instead. The defeat dropped the team out of the playoff picture for now, and means they won’t be able to lock down a Wild Card bid until Week 17 — if at all.
Here are all the current playoff clinching scenarios for the upcoming week, courtesy of the NFL.
New England Patriots
Clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the 4-10 Jets AND a Raiders loss/tie against the Colts OR
a tie against the Jets and a Raiders loss.
Clinch the NFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win/tie over the Lions, who are fighting to retain control of the NFC North OR
a Giants loss/tie.
Clinch the AFC West title and a first-round bye with a win over the Colts AND a Chiefs loss/tie OR
a tie and a Chiefs loss.
Clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Cardinals, who fought them to a draw the last time these teams played, AND a Lions loss AND a Falcons loss/tie.
Clinch the NFC North title with a win over the Cowboys, who are the NFC’s strongest team AND a Packers tie/loss, OR
a tie AND a Packers loss
Clinch a playoff spot by beating the Cowboys AND a Buccaneers loss/tie OR
a tie AND a Buccaneers loss OR
a tie AND a Buccaneers tie AND a Falcons win OR
a Washington loss/tie AND a Buccaneers loss AND a Falcons win/tie.
Clinch the AFC South title by beating the Bengals (2-4-1 in their last seven games) AND a Titans tie/loss against the woeful, coach-less, 2-12 Jaguars.
Clinch the NFC South title with a win over last year’s NFC champs, Carolina, AND a Buccaneers loss/tie to the 6-8, playoff-eliminated Saints OR
with a tie AND a Buccaneers loss.
Clinch a playoff spot with a win AND the strength of victory tiebreaker with Detroit falls in their favor OR
a win/tie AND a Packers loss/tie OR
a win AND a Lions loss/tie OR
a tie AND a Lions tie OR
a Washington loss/tie AND a Packers loss OR
a Washington loss/tie AND a Packers tie AND a Lions loss.
Clinch the AFC North title by beating the Ravens at home. Baltimore already has a head-to-head victory in this matchup, but that was back in Maryland.
New York Giants
Clinch a playoff spot with a Lions loss/tie OR
a Packers loss/tie OR
a Buccaneers loss/tie OR
a Falcons loss.
Kansas City Chiefs
Clinch a playoff spot with a win/tie against the Broncos, currently fighting for their postseason lives after going 2-4 in their last six games, OR
a Ravens loss/tie.
Clinch a playoff spot by beating the Buffalo Bills, who are potentially in the process of firing head coach Rex Ryan, AND and a Broncos loss/tie OR
a tie and a Ravens loss AND a Broncos loss AND a Texans loss/tie OR
a tie and a Ravens loss AND a Broncos loss AND a Titans loss/tie.
Green Bay Packers
Clinch a playoff spot with a win over a Vikings team that beat them in Week 2 AND a Washington loss/tie AND a Buccaneers loss AND a Falcons win/tie AND the Packers clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Saints, who they beat two weeks ago, AND a Packers loss AND a Lions loss AND a Washington loss OR
a win over the Saints AND a Packers loss AND a Lions loss AND a Washington tie AND the Buccaneers clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Lions.