2017 NFL Playoff Picture: Clinching Scenarios for Week 17

Looking at the 2017 NFL Playoff picture in Week 17 with the clinching scenarios at play.

Though it might be a somewhat sad moment, Week 17 of the 2016 NFL season has finally arrived. It’s a new year on Jan. 1, but the same season wears on and there is plenty left to be decided. Even after 16 weeks up to now, the NFL Playoff picture remains every bit as fluid as ever.

Certainly there is more drama in the NFC than the AFC when it comes to the NFL Playoff picture in Week 17. There is still one spot left to be decided as the second Wild Card team in the NFC in addition to plenty of movement that could happen in regards to seeding. The only real certainty in regards to all of that is that the Dallas Cowboys are the No. 1 seed. Meanwhile in the AFC, the six teams are set and only a bit of shuffling could occur.

With that said, Week 17 is all about stakes for the NFL Playoff picture. So ahead of a loaded slate of games on Sunday all the way up until the huge Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions matchup on Sunday Night Football, we’ll try to break it down.

For Week 17, here are the clinching scenarios at play in the NFL Playoff picture, starting quickly in the AFC:


For starters, the New England Patriots have an easy day at the office in terms of what they need to do. Tom Brady and the crew clinch the No. 1 seed with a win or tie against the Miami Dolphins and also clinch with an Oakland Raiders loss or tie against the Denver Broncos.

In Oakland with Matt McGloin now in for the injured Derek Carr, the Raiders can clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye with a win or tie against the Broncos or with a loss or tie by the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Diego Chargers. What’s more, an Oakland win and New England loss gives the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage to the Raiders.

Staying in the AFC West, the Chiefs can clinch the division and a first-round bye as well with a simple scenario. If KC beats San Diego and the Raiders lose, the Chiefs get into No. 2 seed. Lastly, the Miami Dolphins can vault ahead of those same Chiefs if Kansas City loses while the Dolphins also upset the Patriots.


The Atlanta Falcons can clinch the No. 2 seed and first-round bye in Week 17 most easily by winning against the New Orleans Saints. However, they can also clinch the same if they tie and the Seattle Seahawks lose or tie. Moreover, a loss by the Seahawks and a Lions loss or tie gives the Falcons the No. 2 regardless of their result. That same scenario exists if Seattle ties and Detroit outright loses to the Packers.

Speaking of the Seahawks, they have a shot at a first-round bye as well, though it’ll take some help. With a Seattle win, Russell Wilson and company need a Falcons loss or tie to clinch the No. 2 seed. Meanwhile, they can also clinch if they were to tie the San Francisco 49ers if the Falcons lose and the Packers and Lions tie.

Then we get to the Lions themselves who have a wide variety of outcomes as even their playoff berth isn’t set. To clinch at least that, the Lions either need to tie Green Bay or need the Washington Redskins to lose or tie against the New York Giants. Moreover, they can clinch the division title simply by beating the Packers. Lastly, they also have a shot at the No. 2 seed if they win against the Pack, Seattle loses or ties and Atlanta also loses.

Meanwhile, the Lions’ opponents in the Packers are in the same boat as Detroit as they clinch the NFC North with a win—but can also do so if there’s a tie. Meanwhile, Green Bay can also clinch a playoff berth with a loss to Detroit. That will require help in the form of a Redskins loss or if Washington ties, the Buccaneers win, and either the Seahawks, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, or Philadelphia Eagles win (for strength of victory tie-breaker).

Then we have the Redskins, who also have a simple scenario ahead of them. If they win against the Giants and Packers-Lions doesn’t end in a tie, Washington is in. Washington could also sneak in if they tie along with a Packers loss and Buccaneers loss or tie.

Finally, we arrive at the Buccaneers, who need some serious help to get into the playoffs. First and foremost, they need a win over the Carolina Panthers. However, they would also need a Redskins tie and a Packers loss with the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Cowboys, and 49ers winning to clinch the strength of victory tie-breaker over Green Bay.

That’s what’s at stake in Week 17 as team’s finish up their run through the regular season. It may not be entering the week, but the 2017 NFL Playoff picture will be finalized by the end of the night. What a way to go out with a bang.

This article originally appeared on