NFL Playoff Picture 2016: Clinching Scenarios for Week 15
Taking a look at the 2016 NFL Playoff picture for Week 15 with which teams can clinch postseason berths, among other things.
Things are far from clear throughout the entire 2016 NFL Playoff picture entering Week 15. After all, there’s a good chance that the races for the AFC South, NFC South, AFC North, and AFC West come down to the final week of the regular season. In Week 15, the first week of the season to feature a Saturday game, though, there are still plenty of things on the line.
Chances to clinch several divisions will be on the line, in addition to chances to simply lock up a postseason berth. While that doesn’t give anyone a full look at the NFL Playoff picture, it doesn’t give the full scope just yet. That will start to take more shape over Weeks 16 and 17.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at what can be decided in the 2016 NFL Playoff picture in Week 15 with the clinching scenarios in play. We’ll start in the AFC (scenarios per NFL Director of Communications Randall Liu):
Kansas City Chiefs
As they face the Tennessee Titans in Week 15, the Chiefs have the chance to clinch a playoff berth in a number of ways. The easiest of course would be simply winning, which would lock up at least a spot in the postseason. However, they’ll also clinch a berth if they were to tie if either the Miami Dolphins (at New York Jets on Saturday) or Denver Broncos (vs. New England Patriots) lose.
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There is also a chance that the Chiefs could clinch a playoff spot even with a loss. If the Broncos lose and the Baltimore Ravens (vs. Philadelphia Eagles) or Pittsburgh Steelers (at Cincinnati Bengals) lose or tie, Kansas City gets in.
Just as with the Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders also clinch a playoff berth simply with a win over the San Diego Chargers. They too can also earn a spot if they were to tie if the Dolphins or Broncos lose, if the Dolphins and Broncos were also both to tie, or if the Dolphins tie and Chiefs win.
What’s more, the Raiders also have the chance to earn a spot in the postseason without a win or tie, though they need a bit more help than KC does. That scenario requires a Dolphins loss, either the Steelers or Ravens losing or tying, and the Broncos losing or Chiefs winning or tying.
New England Patriots
Right off the bat, the Patriots can clinch the AFC East and one of the top-four seeds with a win or tie against the Broncos. What’s more they’ll also win the division if Miami loses or ties in Week 15.
However, there are much bigger stakes at play for New England. A win or tie by the Patriots also means that they clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs. If they lose, they can still clinch that spot if the Dolphins lose or tie and either the Steelers losing or tying or the Chiefs winning.
Facing a tough matchup against the New York Giants, the Lions can clinch the NFC North with a win and a Green Bay Packers (at Chicago Bears) loss or tie. If Detroit were to tie the G-Men, they can still win the division with a Packers loss and a Minnesota Vikings (vs. Indianapolis Colts) loss or tie.
Going up against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15 on Thursday Night Football, they can clinch the NFC West division simply. All it will take is either a win or tie on Thursday night. What’s more, Seattle also clinches the division if the Arizona Cardinals (vs. New Orleans Saints) lose or tie.
The only team to have a playoff spot locked up already, Dallas is reeling from a tough defeat in Week 14. Even after that loss to the Giants, the Cowboys still have plenty of things on the line on Sunday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a win in primetime and a Giants loss or tie, they clinch the NFC East. What’s more, they can clinch the division with a tie if New York loses outright to the Lions.
Though unlikely, there’s an outside chance that the Cowboys could also clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. Obviously that first takes a Dallas win, but also a tie between the Giants and Lions.
New York Giants
Speaking of the Giants, there’s an outside chance that they can clinch a playoff berth if they get a fair amount of help in the process. First, New York has to beat the Lions. But then they would also need the Washington Redskins (vs. Carolina Panthers on Monday) to lose, the Vikings to lose or tie, and the Packers to lose or tie to lock up the postseason spot.
For a season that’s been so incredibly unpredictable and wild, plenty of races and spots are left to be decided in the regular season. Both Wild Card races are likely to go down to the wire, as are many of the divisions. As for now, though, these seven teams have the chance to seize the moment in Week 15 and lock things up.