NFL Playoff Scenarios Heading into Week 16

NFL Playoff Scenarios Heading into Week 16

New York Jets

We’re entering the final two weeks of the NFL season. The New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals have their spot clinched, and so do the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. Still chasing? Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and even the Jacksonville Jaguars, with plenty of seeding scenarios open for discussion.

Arizona Cardinals: The 12-2 Cardinals have clinched the NFC West and the #3 seed. They need just one win in their two remaining games (home against Green Bay and Seattle) to get the #2 bye. They can finish as the #1 seed if the Panthers lose both of their remaining games, while they finish 14-2 as well.

Atlanta Falcons: There’s still a chance, but they need to win both of their games against the Saints and Panthers, while the 9-5 Vikings lose their two remaining games. And it’s still not going to be enough: They need help from the Bucs against the Bears and the 49ers against the Lions.

Carolina Panthers: At 14-0, the only way they don’t finish as the #1 team in the NFC, playing the Falcons and Buccaneers to finish the season, is if they lose their next two games and Arizona win their two against Green Bay and Seattle.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are 11-3, #2 in the AFC at the moment. They can still finish with the #1 seed, but they’ll need to win out without Andy Dalton and for the Patriots to lose both of their remaining games. If the Bengals win one of their remaining two games while the Broncos lose on of theirs, they win their division and the #2 seed. To clinch the division they need to win one of their remaining games and for the Steelers to lose one of theirs. Losing their remaining games while the Steelers win out means the Bengals fall to the Wild Card berth.

Denver Broncos: At 10-4, the Broncos still haven’t clinched a playoff spot. The Broncos play the Bengals this weekend in a battle of backups. Win that game and their next one while the Patriots lose twice puts the Broncos as the #1 team in the AFC. Without counting on the Patriots but winning twice, the Broncos end up with a bye week, almost as good. They can miss the playoffs by losing their two games. Even a loss to the Bengals while the Chiefs, Steelers and Jets win out will leave Denver out of the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers: The Packers are in the playoffs, but what’s the seeding? Their division title still isn’t clinched, but if they beat the Vikings in week 17, they can lose their week 16 game and still win the division. Winning out might give them the #2 seed, but that depends on how the Cardinals do. Losing out while the Vikings don’t lose in week 16 either drops the Packers to the Wild Card zone.

Houston Texans: At 7-7, the Texans lead the AFC South. They need one win to be about 97% sure they win the division. Win out? It’s theirs. If they just win their Tennessee game and the Colts lose their next one, it’s over, and Houston take the division. The Texans can still lose their two games and win the division, but that means the Jaguars lose one of their remaining games and the Colts lose both of theirs.

Indianapolis Colts: They’re 6-8, which means they need a lot of help. The Colts need the Texans to lose both of their games and win their final one against the Titans, while their Week 16 game against the Dolphins means nothing to them pretty much because it’s outside the division.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Believe it or not, the Jaguars are still alive. It’s pretty simple for them: They need to win in New Orleans and against Houston, while the Texans lose their two games and the Colts lose against Tennessee in week 17 in order to make the playoffs.

Kansas City Chiefs: They’re 9-5, and almost guaranteed to make the playoffs, riding an 8-game winning streak. They can actually finish with the #2 seed, which means they’ve won both their games, the Bengals lost both of theirs, the Steelers won twice and the Broncos lost to San Diego in week 17 at home. The Chiefs more realistically can win the division by winning one more game than the Broncos over the next two games. Winning two games in general gives them at least the Wild card spot, while winning only one is enough if the Steelers and Jets lose at least one of their remaining two.

Minnesota Vikings: It’s going to be difficult for the 9-5 Vikings not to make the playoffs. They can win their division by winning out, which means beating the Packers in week 17, or by both teams losing in week 16 and the Vikings still beating GB in week 17. For the Vikings to lose their playoff spot, they need to lose out, for the Falcons to win out, the 49ers to beat the Lions and the Bucs to beat the Bears in week 16.

New England Patriots: No matter what happens, the 12-2 Patriots are getting a bye week. Will it be #1 or #2? One win is enough to take the top seed, and losing out can still give them it, if the Bengals and Broncos don’t jump up from behind them.

New York Jets: At 9-5, the Jets need to win out, but that alone isn’t going to be enough. Yes, at 11-5, they’re still more likely to be out of the playoffs than in, needing the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs to not win their divisions and hopefully both lose out.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Only losing out while the Jets win one of their games put the Steelers out of the picture. Anything else? They can actually still win their division, although that means winning out and the Bengals losing both of theirs.

Seattle Seahawks have clinched their wild card spot but can’t win their division. The Washington Redskins are in the playoffs, but only as a #4 seed division winner.

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