NFL Week 16 Playoff Picture and Scenarios

John Morgan
December 23, 2015 at 8:00 am ET

While NFL Week 15 did not do much to the playoff picture other than end the misery for a handful of teams by officially eliminating them from post-season play, it did bring genuine contenders one step closer to clinching scenarios in Week 16. Eighteen teams still have at least a mathematical chance at a playoff spot with two weeks to go; that is surely something that Roger Goodell’s parity-driven Park Avenue league office that strives for participation banners is surely proud of.

 

For all intents and purposes there are four remaining playoff races: (a) between Cincinnati and Denver for a bye; (b) between Kansas City an Pittsburgh for the number five seed (and the right to play the sorry-ass AFC South champion); (c) between Green Bay and Minnesota for the NFC North and number three seed; and (d) between Washington and Philadelphia for the NFC East title and the right to lose at home to Seattle.

 

Here is a look at all of the remaining playoff clinching and elimination scenarios, no matter how minute. For the sake of clarity and the attempt to avoid mind-numbing confusion, I have not forgotten but rather have avoided scenarios involving ties.

 

AFC – 3 Teams Seeking A First Round Bye

1. New England Patriots
12-2 [9-1 conference]
Clinched AFC East and a first-round bye
at Jets, at Dolphins
94% chance for #1 seed
– Can clinch #1 seed with a win

2. Cincinnati Bengals
11-3 [8-2 conference, 4-1 division]
Clinched a playoff spot
at Broncos, vs Ravens
3% chance for #1 seed; 49% for a bye; 97% for #3 or better
– Can clinch AFC North and #2 seed with a win over Broncos
– Can clinch AFC North and #3 seed with a Steelers loss
– Can clinch playoff spot and #5 seed with a Chiefs loss
– Eliminated from #1 seed with loss to Broncos
– Eliminated from #1 seed with win by Patriots

3. Denver Broncos
10-4 [6-4 conference, 3-2 division]
Could be as high as #1 seed or could miss playoffs entirely
vs Bengals, at Chargers
4% chance for #1 seed; 51% for a bye; 28% for a wild card; 7% to miss playoffs
– Can clinch AFC West and #3 seed with win over Bengals, plus Chiefs lose to Browns
– Can clinch at least #5 seed with win over Bengals, plus both Steelers and Jets lose
– Can clinch at least #6 seed with win over Bengals, plus either Steelers or Jets lose
– Can be #1 seed by winning both remaining games, and Patriots lose both games
– Can be #2 seed by winning both remaining games
– Eliminated from AFC West title if KC wins twice and Bronocos lose at least once
– Eliminated from playoffs by losing at least once, and Steelers, Chiefs and Jets all win both games

 

AFC South – #4 Seed

4. Houston Texans
7-7 [3-1 division, 5-5 conference]
at Titans, vs Jaguars
93% chance of winning AFCS and #4 seed; 7% chance to miss playoffs
– Can clinch AFC South and #4 seed with win, plus Colts loss

10. Indianapolis Colts
6-8 [3-2 division, 4-6 conference]
vs Texans, at Dolphins, vs Titans
7% chance of winning AFCS and #4 seed; 93% chance to miss playoffs
– Eliminated from playoffs with loss to Dolphins, plus Texans win

11. Jacksonville Jaguars
5-9 [2-3 division, 5-6 conference]
Jaguars are still in contention for both a playoff spot, or #1 draft pick
at Saints, at Texans
1% chance of winning AFCS and #4 seed; 99% chance to miss playoffs
– Eliminated from playoffs with either a loss, or a Texans win

 

AFC – Wild Cards

5. Kansas City Chiefs
9-5 [8-2 conference, 4-1 division]
Currently hold tiebreaker over Steelers and Jets based on conference record
vs Browns, vs Raiders
Minute chance for #2 seed; 36% chance to win AFCW & #3 seed; 42% for #5, 17% for #6, 5% for no playoffs
– Clinch #5 seed with win, plus Steelers and Jets lose
– Clinch playoff spot with win, plus either Steelers or Jets lose
– Eliminated from #2 seed with loss, or Bengals beat Broncos, or Steelers lose
– Eliminated from #3 seed with loss, plus Bengals beat Broncos

6. Pittsburgh Steelers
9-5 [6-4 conference, 2-2 division]
Hold tiebreaker over Jets based on common games
at Ravens, at Browns
Minute chance for #2 seed; 3% chance to win AFCN & #3 seed; 41% for #5, 46% for #6, 10% for no playoffs
– Chance of missing playoffs dropped from 67% two weeks ago to 30% last week to 10% this week
– Clinch playoff spot with win, plus Jets loss to Patriots
– Eliminated from AFCN title and #3 seed with either a loss, or a Bengals win
– Eliminated from #5 seed with a loss, plus Chiefs win, plus Broncos win

7. New York Jets
9-5 [6-4 conference, 2-2 division]
Need to finish with better record than either the Chiefs or Steelers
vs Patriots, at Bills
5% chance for #5 seed, 17% for #6 seed, 78% for no playoffs
– Cannot clinch a playoff spot this week
– Eliminated from #5 seed with a loss, plus a win by the Steelers
– Eliminated from #5 seed with a loss, plus wins by both the Broncos and Chiefs
– Eliminated from playoffs with a loss, plus wins by the Broncos and the Chiefs and the Steelers

 

AFC Teams Looking Ahead To The Draft

8. 6-8 Oakland Raidersvs Chargers, at Chiefs
9. 6-8 Buffalo Billsvs Cowboys, vs Jets
12. 5-9 Miami Dolphinsvs Colts, vs Patriots
13. 4-10 Baltimore Ravensvs Steelers, at Bengals
14. 4-10 San Diego Chargersat Raiders, at Broncos
15. 3-11 Cleveland Brownsat Chiefs, vs Steelers
16. 3-11 Tennessee Titansvs Texans, at Colts

 

NFC Contenders

1. Carolina Panthers
14-0 [10-0 conference]
Clinched NFC South division title and first round bye
at Falcons, vs Bucs
99% chance for #1 becoming the #1 seed
– Clinch #1 seed with either a win, or a loss by Cardinals

2. Arizona Cardinals
12-2 [9-1 conference, 4-1 division]
Clinched NFC West and at least a #3 seed
vs Packers, vs Seahawks
94% chance for a first round bye
– Clinch #2 seed with a win over Packers
– Eliminated from #1 seed with either a loss, or a win by Seahawks

3. Green Bay Packers
10-4 [7-3 conference, 3-2 division]
Clinched a playoff spot
at Cardinals, vs Vikings
6% chance for #2 seed; 66% chance to win division; 29% to be #5 seed and 5% to be #6
– Clinch NFC North and #3 seed with a win plus a Vikings loss to Giants
– Clinch at least #5 seed with either a win, or a Seahawks loss
– Eliminated from first round bye with a loss to Cardinals

5. Seattle Seahawks
9-5 [6-4 conference, 2-2 division]
Clinched playoff spot; can only be a wild card
vs Rams, at Cardinals
62% chance of being the #5 seed, 38% chance of being the #6 seed
– Clinch #5 seed with a win, plus Vikings lose to Giants, plus Packers beat Cardinals

6. Minnesota Vikings
9-5 [6-4 conference, 4-1 division]
vs Giants, at Packers
Cannot get a bye; 34% chance for #3 seed; 10% for #5; 56% for #6; minute chance to miss playoffs
– Clinch playoff spot with either a win, or a Falcons loss, or a Seahawks win
– Eliminated from division title and #3 seed with both a loss, and a Packers win
– Eliminated from #5 seed with a loss, plus a Packers win, plus a Seahawks win

 

NFC Pretenders (NFC East)

4. Washington Redskins
7-7 [2-2 division, 6-4 conference]
Head-to-head: 1-0 vs Eagles, 1-1 vs Giants
at Eagles, at Cowboys
60% chance of winning NFC East and #4 seed; 40% chance to miss playoffs
– Clinch division and #4 seed with a win over the Eagles

10. Philadelphia Eagles
6-8 [2-2 division, 3-7 conference]
Head-to-head: 0-1 vs Skins, 1-0 vs Giants
vs Redskins, at Giants
37% chance of winning NFC East and #4 seed; 63% chance to miss playoffs
– Eliminated from playoffs with a loss to Washington
– To win division and make playoffs Eagles must win both remaining games, plus Washington must lose to Dallas

11. New York Giants
6-8 [2-3 division, 4-6 conference]
Head-to-head: 1-1 vs Skins, 0-1 vs Eagles
at Vikings, vs Eagles
4% chance of winning NFC East and #4 seed; 96% chance to miss playoffs
– Eliminated from playoffs with either a loss, or if Washington beats Philly
– To win division and make playoffs Giants must win both remaining games, plus Washington must lose twice

 

NFC Teams Looking Ahead To The Draft

7. Atlanta Falcons
7-7 [4-6 conference, 0-4 division]
Only team from this group technically alive, but it is time to pull the plug
vs Panthers, vs Saints
99.9% chance of missing the playoffs
– Eliminated with either a loss, or a Seahawks win, or a Vikings win

8. 6-8 St. Louis Ramsat Seahawks, at Niners
9. 6-8 Tampa Bay Bucsvs Bears, at Panthers
12. 5-9 Detroit Lionsvs Niners, at Bears
13. 5-9 New Orleans Saintsvs Jaguars, at Falcons
14. 5-9 Chicago Bearsat Bucs, vs Lions
15. 4-10 San Francisco 49ersat Lions, vs Rams
16. 4-10 Dallas Cowboysat Bills, vs Redskins

 



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