The Houston Texans are the only AFC team that has clinched a spot in the playoffs. By the end of Week 15, three other AFC teams may join them.
The NFL has released the playoff scenarios for Week 15, with the Patriots, Ravens and Steelers all having a chance to clinch.
For New England it’s simple: Beat the Broncos on Sunday and they clinch the AFC East. Even if the Patriots lose to the Broncos, they’d clinch the AFC East if the Jets lose to the Eagles. And even if the Patriots lose to the Broncos and the Jets beat the Eagles, the Patriots could still clinch at least an AFC wild card spot if the Bengals, Raiders and Titans all lost.
Neither the Ravens nor the Steelers can clinch the AFC North this week, but both teams will clinch at least a wild card if they win this week. Both teams could also clinch a wild card even if they lose, although they’ll need some help in the form of losses by some of the other AFC contenders (including various combinations of losses from the Jets, Raiders, Titans or Broncos).
In the NFC, three teams that have already clinched playoff berths — the Packers, 49ers and Saints — and no other teams can get into the playoffs this week. But the Packers and Saints are both playing for playoff position this week.
The Saints will clinch the NFC South if they win and the Falcons lose. If both of those things don’t happen, the Falcons will still at least have a chance of winning the NFC South when they go to New Orleans on Monday night in Week 16.
And the Packers will clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with either a win or a 49ers loss. Basically, the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Lambeau Field in any scenario other than the extraordinarily unlikely event that the Packers lose all three of their remaining games and the 49ers win all three of their remaining games.